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Unus qui nobts cunctando restituit rem j 
Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutemj 
Ergo magisque magisque viri nunc gloria claret 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, oy 

in the Clerk's office of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts. 




THE contents of this volume are essentially the 
same, as those of the volume prefixed to WASHING 
TON'S WRITINGS. It being designed chiefly for read 
ers, who may not have access to that work, such 
additions have been made, as the prescribed space 
would admit, and as would contribute to enhance 
its value in this form of a separate publication. 

The materials for the Life, as well as for the 
large work, have been drawn from a great variety 
of sources; from the manuscripts at Mount Vernon, 
papers in the public offices of London, Paris, Wash 
ington, and all the old Thirteen States ; and also 
from the private papers of many of the principal 
leaders in the Revolution. The entire mass of manu 
scripts left by General Washington, consisting of 
more than two hundred folio volumes, was in the 
author's hands ten years. From these materials it 
has been his aim to select and combine the most 
important facts, tending to exhibit in their true light 
the character, actions, and opinions of Washington. 
The narrative form was chosen, as the best suited 
to his object. He has not attempted to write an 


essay, dissertation, or eulogy, but has confined him 
self to a biographical sketch, introducing events and 
incidents in their natural order, with no other re 
marks or reflections of his own, than such as seemed 
necessary to preserve just proportions in the parts, 
and a unity in the whole. Such has been the au 
thor's aim; how far he has succeeded in attaining 
it, the reader will judge. 

In delineating the career of Washington, nearly 
the whole of whose life was passed on a conspicuous 
public theatre, it is not possible for his biographer 
to avoid encroaching at almost every step on the 
department of history. His personal and public acts 
were so closely identified with each other, that they 
can seldom be separated. The narrow limits of this 
narrative, compared with the extent of the subject, 
would not allow of digressions , and, from the nature 
of the task, no more could be done than to touch 
on the historical events in which he was immediately 
concerned, although these may have been intimately 
connected with many others of great moment. Who 
ever would understand the character of Washington, 
in all its compass and grandeur, must learn it from 
his own writings, and from a complete history of his 
country during the long period in which he was the 
most prominent actor. 


JANUARY, 1839. 




Origin of the Washington Family ...... 1 

Washington of Sul grave 2 

Birth of George Washington . , '*... V;^' 4 . >t* v- 3 

Death of his Father . ., *; V V ,*/.;:* -:*J ,..;*. ^ ,* ,- -*-, . 3 

His Mother ""*". ' VW * ; % * 4 

His early Studies, Habits, and Proficiency , , ? . . . . 5 

Rules of Behavior .., * , * . * :.* : , .-. V * v- 6 

His Skill in Mathematics and Habits of Method .' ' .' . . 7 

Educated only at the Common Schools **.- ,. ., * t .* - 8 

Proposal for him to enter the British Navy . . , , . 9 

Resides with his Brother Lawrence Washington at Mount Vernon 10 

Appointed Surveyor of Lord Fairfax's Lands . -.->. - ; ,- 12 

Continues the Employment of Surveyor for three Years . . 1,3 

Military Inspector with the Rank of Major . -'* /*',' . . 14 

His Fondness for Military Studies and Exercises . .;.:. 14 

Voyage to Barbadoes and Residence on that Island * -. 15 

Death of his Brother Lawrence Washington ./..' *.. . 16 

He settles the Affairs of his Brother's Estate + , 4 , ^ . 16 

His Duties as Adjutant-General 17 


Encroachments of the French and Indians at the West . . 18 

Governor of Virginia ordered to build Forts ... 19 
Claims of the English and French to the Country beyond the Al- 

leganies . ...... . , : *, * . 19 

Original Grounds of the War . . ; ,, - .' h ; . . .21 

Washington sent as a Commissioner to the French . . , . 21 

Crosses the Allegany Mountains and meets the Indians " ; . . . 23 

Indian Speech . . ;*.>- . ; ,= .,, v # ,,. * . 24 

Journey to the French Fort, and Interviews with the Commander 26 

Examines the Fort 27 



Washington famishes to General Forbes a Line of March . . 93 

Requests to be put in the Advance 93 

An Accident hastens the March .-..*. . . . 94 

Fort Duquesne taken . . >.' 95 

Washington returns to Williamsburg . ..... 95 

Resigns his Commission 96 

His Address to the Officers 96 

His Military Services and Character 96 

Influence of the War in preparing him for future Events . . 97 


His Marriage 98 

Character of Mrs. Washington 99 

Elected a Member of the House of Burgesses .... 99 

Compliment bestowed upon him by the House of Burgesses . 100 

His influence in public Bodies ....... 101 

Retires to private Life at Mount Vernon . . . . . 101 

Occupied as a Planter 102 

Habits of Industry, Hospitality, and Social Intercourse . . 103 

His Relish for Amusements 104 

Anecdote 105 

Acts of Usefulness to his Neighbors and Friends . . .105 

Active in Parish Affairs 106 

Takes an early and decisive part against British Aggressions . 107 

Disapproves the Stamp Act 107 

Joins in the Non-importation Agreement 109 

Presents Articles of Association to the House of Burgesses . 109 
Secures the Claim of Soldiers to Public Lands . . . .110 

Tour to the Ohio Ill 

Descends tlie River in a Canoe to the Great Kenhawa . .112 

Prepared for the approaching Crisis 112 

Earl of Dunmore 113 

News of the Boston Port Bill 1 13 

A General Congress proposed 114 

Washington's Sentiments as to the Colonial Grievances . . 116 

Attends the Convention at Williamsburg 119 

A Delegate to the first Continental Congress . . . . 119 

His Opinion concerning Independence 321 

Anecdote .122 

Returns to the Occupations of his Farm 123 

CJjosen to command Volunteer Companies > **.**'''''* ^ 

Attends the Virginia Convention . . . . . . . 124 

Chosen a Delegate to the second Continental Congress . . 124 




Meeting of the second Continental Congress .... 126 

Washington's Sentiments on the State of Affairs . . . 127 

Congress provides for the Defence of the Country . . . 127 

Chosen Commander-in-chief of the American Army . 129 

His Reply to Congress 130 

Letter to his Wife * * . . . . -. *'.-.:,*' 130 

Receives his Commission . * >.^-> ; Vv> 131 

Takes Command of the Army at Cambridge . - .. ; , 132 

Ascertains the State of the Army . . . ,^ .*;;* -. . 133 

Convenes a Council of War . . . . 133 

Deficiency of Supplies and Want of System * ; * '? . 135 

New Arrangement of the Army . . * , >* 136 

Congress jealous of Military Power . . . 137 

Difficult Task of the Commander-in-chief . , . :, , 138 

Corresponds with numerous Public Bodies ... . . 139 

His Firmness . . . . . . . . 140 

Remonstrates against General Gage's Treatment of Prisoners . 141 

Rifle Companies join the Army . ..*. -. , ; ; *j r* 143 

Expedition against Quebec ..... v ^ * 143 

Deficiency of Powder in Camp 145 

Committee of Congress visit the Army . . . . 146 

Articles of War revised . . . . . . 147 

Maritime Affairs .> .;,*- *:,:-,* :. --f - ... ; : - . * . 148 

Burning of Falmouth . 150 

General Howe succeeds General Gage \>*m^{'.& = * . . 150 

Slow Progress of Enlistments 151 

State of the Army at the End of the Year . ; * ;;, * 153 

Mrs. Washington arrives at Head-Quarters .... 153 

Acts of Hospitality and Charity . 154 


Secret Enterprise of General Howe ..... 156 

Washington proposes an Attack on Boston .... 157 

Want of Powder and Arms 158 

Sentiments respecting the Conduct of the British Ministry . 160 

Dorchester Heights taken . . . _.;, . 161 

Preparations to make an Assault on Boston */ s; ^ . . 161 

Boston evacuated by the British . . . ., - * . 162 

Congress award a Vote of Thanks and a Medal to Washington 163 

American Troops march for New York 164 

Military Works inspected ^ . . ,. . . 165 

Affairs of Canada . . 165 



Washington visits Congress at Philadelphia . . 166 

Recommends the Assumption of Independence . . . . 167 

Plots of the Tories . . . ...... 168 

British Fleet arrives at New York . ' .' : ^ ' ^r-v ' ; . 169 

Declaration of Independence . 169 

Intercourse between Washington and Lord Howe 171 

Strength of the American Army ' * * * ' . . . . 175 

Dissensions among the Troops 175 

British Troops land on Long Island ... 176 

Battle of Long Island . . . . . . .177 

Retreat from Brooklyn 178 

Remarks on the Battle . . . ' * 179 

Policy and Design of Washington 180 

Effects of the recent Defeat . . . v . V '. . 181 

Necessity of' a permanent Standing Army ..... 182 


General Howe's Plans 184 

British Troops land on New York Island 185 

New York evacuated 186 

Skirmish near Haerlem and Death of Colonel Knowlton . . 187 

General Howe's Letter to the Ministry ..... 188 

Errors of the British Ministers 189 

Change in the Military System recommended . . . .191 

New Army organized 192 

Injurious Effects of an irregular System of Bounties . . .193 

Army marches to White Plains 195 

Battle of Chatterton's Hill 196 

Expected Attack on the Camp 196 

British retreat 197 

Washington crosses the Hudson 198 

Capture of Fort Washington 199 

Retreat through New Jersey 201 

Army crosses the Delaware 202 

Conduct and Character of General Lee ..... 202 

Strength of the Army 204 

Washington's Firmness and Spirit under Reverses ... 205 

Urges an Increase of the Army . V . 207 

Invested by Congress with Dictatorial Powers . . . . 207 

Applies himself with Vigor to recruiting the Army . . . 209 

His Rule for the Selection of Officers * . -=i~ -v'i . . 210 

Battle of Trenton . * -v*y & ; : t--. *:-V ^ .' ; r -. . . 211 

Recrosses the Delaware . *' '*'-'* -. * "'* . 213 

Battle of Princeton ^M .''*'' . . 215 

Retires to Winter Quarters at Morristown ..... 217 

Effects of the late Operations 217 




Position of the Army ......... 219 

General Howe's Proclamation and its Effects .... 219 

Washington's Counter Proclamation ...... 220 

Appointment of Officers ........ 221 

Exchange of Prisoners ......... 222 

Washington disapproves Retaliation ...... 223 

Sufferings of the Prisoners in New York .. v^,v ^ . 224 

Conduct of General Howe . ..... < 4* W 226 

Skirmishing between the two Armies . . '^; " ^-w>te fi . 227 

Movements of the American Army . . i' v 229 

Washington's first Meeting with Lafayette . - * r - * : . * 230 

British land at the Head of Elk ....... 232 

Battle of the Brandy wine v . . . *:.*-, ... 233 

Motives for fighting the Battle . . . ,.,**.. 235 

Washington retreats to Philadelphia ... <: * * & . 236 

Recrosses the Schuylkill ..... * ^ * 236 

Particulars of the late Movements . j *;:.;'*-' ... 237 

Battle of Germantown . ...... . 238 

Effects of the Battle ... ...... 240 

Operations on the Delaware J, . . . . . . 241 

Skirmishes at Whitemarsh ........ 242 

His Delicacy in the Exercise of Military Power c o -'V ; -' *'' 243 

Encampment at Valley Forge .... < "?'- >* '- 245 

Spurious Letters published in the Name of Washington . . 246 

Conway's Cabal . . , .' * .- -; . . -^ .?.-. '^.: y i w -^.- . 247 

Origin of the Cabal . ....-,, ;* */ -.=-* ^ -* ---;.> -^ 247 

Favored by a Party in Congress . < < - ^ . -v V 249 

Magnanimous Conduct of Lafayette ' '&. * . . . 251 

Letter to the President of Congress . . . ?:>..\ . t v . 253 

Objects of those concerned in the Cabal ..... 254 


Distresses of the Army at Valley Forge 255 

A new System for the Army 257 

Half-pay to Officers for Life proposed . . *; > .? * 258 

Congress reluctant to grant Half-pay . . . -.'.'* . . . 261 

Jealousy of the Army in Congress . . . , . . 262 

Difficulties attending the Command of the Army .... 263 

Washington disapproves Lord North's Conciliatory Bills * v.% 265 

Rejoicings in Camp on the Ratification of the Treaty with France 267 

British hold Possession of Philadelphia 268 

Strength of the two Armies . ; v * 268 




Council of War decides against offensive Operations . . 209 

Lafayette's Affair at Barren Hill . - ; 4 *- 270 

Philadelphia evacuated 271 

Washington crosses the Delaware and seeks an Engagement . 272 

Battle of Monmouth . -; .Y -. ' ; ' a74 

British retire to Middletown . . ; ^- tv . 276 

Loss in the Action 277 

Trial of General Lee 277 

Arrival of Count d'Estaing with a French Fleet . . . 279 

Expedition against the Enemy at Rhode Island .... 279 

Designs of the British General 281 

Mistaken Policy of the Enemy 282 

Army retires to Winter Quarters 283 

Exchange of Prisoners 284 

Jealousies and Party Dissensions in Congress . . . 285 

Apathy of the separate States 287 

Project for conquering Canada 287 

Opposed by Washington 288 

He attends Congress 290 

Views of the French Government in Regard to Canada 290 


Plans for the Campaign . ...... 292 

Organization of the Army 294 

Bounties to the Troops 294 

Expedition against the Indians 295 

Predatory Attack on Virginia 296 

British take Possession of Stony Point 297 

Burning of New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk .... 298 

Storming of Stony Point 299 

Paulus Hook surprised and assaulted 301 

Works at West Point constructed .301 

Concerted Plan of Action between Washington and Count d'Estaing 303 

French Minister's Opinion of Washington 304 

Rhode Island evacuated 304 

Army goes into Winter Quarters 305 

Descent upon Staten Island 305 

Depreciation of the Currency 306 

Paper Money made a legal Tender . . . . . . 307 

Arrival of Lafayette from France . . V . 308 

Action at Springfield in New Jersey . . - : . . . 309 

French Fleet and Army arrive at Newport * ; * . . 310 

Plan of combined Operations . . ^ . ; . . 311 

British General prepares to attack the French at Newport . 311 

Conference between Washington and Rochambeau . . . 312 



Treason cf Arnold 313 

Capture of Major Andre ......... 314 

Arnold escapes to the Enemy 315 

Execution of Andre 316 

Plan for attacking the Enemy 319 

Winter Quarters 319 


Mutiny of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Troops . . . 320 

Supplies from France . . 322 

Powers of Congress doubtful and inefficient . . . 324 

Caution of Congress in exercising their Powers . . 325 

French Fleet sails for the Chesapeake . . . >v 326 

Lafayette sent with a Detachment to Virginia . . '-. '*> . 327 

Washington visits the French Army at Newport . . . 328 

Letter to the Manager of his Plantations . . . 330 

Condition of the Army 331 

Conference between Washington and Rochambeau ... 332 

Circular Letter to the Governors of the States .... 333 

Washington's Designs respecting the Campaign . . '' . 334 

Large Extent of his Command 334 

Junction of the American and French Armies .... 335 

Preparations for an Attack on New York . * * : i ' . * 335 

Success of Lafayette in Virginia . 337 

Combined Armies march for Virginia '.'/ ' ' w . 338 

The two Commanders arrive at Williamsburg . " ^ "" . ; : . 339 

French Fleet under Count de Grasse enters the Chesapeake . 339 
Siege of Yorktown . V , . _ J ^*- \ ^: . .340 

Capitulation ' ' V ' ^ l --V v ' ^' ; * 341 

Congress pass a Vote of Thanks to the Officers and Troops . 343 

Washington proposes an Expedition against Charleston . . 343 

Winter Quarters ::>-\.r : i &f.i"?g.\--! '** .;.; . 344 

Washington arrives at Philadelphia . .*-*' . . 345 


Preparations for another Campaign 346 

New Requisitions voted by Congress . . . ir v M-.^-. . 347 

Lafayette returns to France . . . *" :^ :.Y. * . 350 

Affair of Captains Huddy and Asgill . . .24 1 .* >> va . 350 

Discontent of the Troops 353 

Proposal to Washington to become a King .... 354 

His Reply . . ^ 355 

Negotiations for Peace 356 

xvi CONTEJNlfc. 


Departure of the French Troops .,*-,, .. . r . * " '* 356 

Dissatisfaction and Complaints of the Army . . i 357 

Officers send a Memorial to Congress &., '+ ... . 359 

Newburg Addresses . . - "* ' 360 

Washington's Opinion of them . . \. -f': .... 363 

Tranquillity restored by his Prudence 363 

News of Peace 364 

Circular Letter to the States 366 

Washington's Tour to the Northward 367 

Attends Congress at Princeton 367 

Disbanding of the Army 369 

Farewell Address to the Army 369 

British leave New York, and Washington marches into the City 370 

His last Meeting with the Officers 371 

Resigns his Commission to Congress ..... 372 

Becomes a Private Citizen at Mount Vernon .... 373 


Devotes himself to his Private Affairs 374 

Refuses to receive Remuneration for his Services . . . 375 

Hospitality at Mount Vernon . ... . . . 377 

Tour to the Western Country 378 

His Efforts in Favor of Internal Navigation .... 379 

Recommends Surveys of the Western Rivers .... 381 

Visit of Lafayette to Mount Vernon 381 

Companies for Internal Navigation organized .... 382 

Declines receiving a Donation from Virginia .... 383 

Contributes to the Support of Education 384 

Appointed Chancellor of William and Mary College . . 384 

Favors a Plan for civilizing the Indians 385 

His farming Operations 386 

Occupied in planting his Grounds at Mount Vernon . . . 387 

His Gardens and Orchards ....... 387 

His numerous Avocations 388 

Visitors at Mount Vernon 389 

His daily Habits 389 

Houdon's Statue 390 

Washington's Sentiments on the State of Public Affairs . . 392 

Apprehensions from the Intrigues of designing Men . . 394 

Jealousies of the States 395 

Commissioners meet at Annapolis . . 396 

Washington appointed a Delegate to the General Convention . 397 

His Objections to accepting the Appointment . . . . 397 

Society of the Cincinnati -.*V -. .. . ^. . . . . 398 

Resolves to attend the Convention 400 


His Preparations for acting in the Convention . . . .401 

Elected President of that Body 402 

His Opinion of the Constitution 403 

The Public Mind designates him for the first President . . 405 

His Reluctance to engage again in Public Life . . . 405 

Chosen President of the United States 406 


Leaves Mount Vernon to enter upon his Public Duties . 407 

Journey to the Seat of Congress 407 

His public Entry into New York . . . .**>>-, , . 408 

Takes the Oat i of Office r ;^. :i 408 

Inaugural Speech . . . . . . . . ,,, + - . 409 

Examines the Reports of the Heads of Departments . . 410 

His Private Affairs ,',.'... . . 411 

Directions to the Manager of his Farms . v - 412 

Rules for receiving and entertaining Company . *, . * . 412 

Ceremonies and Social Visits m ,;.:, * . : 413 

Seized with a dangerous Illness . . . . - . 414 

Death of his Mother ; , * . 414 

Economy of his Household . ,. , v o * . 415 

Executive Departments formed 415 

His Opinion of the Supreme Court . . . .-". 417 

Rules for the Appointment of Civil Officers . ....-< . 418 

Numerous Applications for Office , ; ^ ., . . . . 419 

Three Things to be regarded in Appointments . . . 419 


Tour through the Eastern States . . . . , > 421 

Letter from Mrs. Washington . , . . , . . 422 

Measures recommended to Congress . . . *,."' . 423 

Support of Public Credit . . . ..... 424 

Funding System . 425 

Debts of the several States 427 

Reasons for Funding the State Debts 427 

Advantages of the Funding System 428 

District of Columbia - 428 

Visit to Rhode Island and Mount Vernon . . , r . 429 

Foreign Relations of the United States . . .,.., . 429 

Foreign Influence operating on the Indians . . ..,,. . 431 

Washington's Policy in Regard to the Indians . */.'*. . 431 

Congress assemble at Philadelphia . ,$., . . . . 432 

National Bank . \' ' % 432 


xviii CONTENTS. 


App r oved by Washington . . - " . 433 

Tour through the Southern States .v-<v . . * . 434 

Law for apportioning Representatives . . . . . . 434 

Local Jealousies .. ' 435 

Political Parties . . fc*i J^ * *? **> .*;-.. .... 436 

Differences between Hamilton and Jefferson . . . . 437 

Washington endeavors to produce a Reconciliation . . . 438 


Washington urged by his Friends to remain in Office another Term 442 

Chosen a second Time President of the United States . . 445 

French Revolution ' . . . . 445 

The President resolves to maintain a strict Neutrality . . 447 

Questions relative to France submitted to the Cabinet . . 447 

Proclamation of Neutrality 448 

Party Strifes increased by the Proclamation ..... 449 

Washington assailed by the Party in Opposition . . . 449 

Conduct of the French Minister Genet 450 

Democratic Societies 452 

Washington's Opinion of them 452 

His Opinion as to instructing Representatives .... 453 

Relations with England * . . . . 453 

President's Speech to Congress * 454 

Commercial Intercourse with Foreign Nations .... 455 

Fox's Eulogy and Erskine's Letter 455 

Madison's Commercial Resolutions 457 

Congress put the Country in a State of Defence . . . 458 

Acrimony of Parties 458 

Western Insurrection 459 

Requisitions for Militia 460 

President joins the Army ........ 461 

Insurrection suppressed 461 


~ ""^k 

Treaty with Great Britain 463 

President resolves to ratify it 463 

Senate advises the Ratification . 464 

Popular Excitement caused by the Treaty . . . . . 465 

Treaty signed by the President 466 

Party Violence turned against Washington . - * . . 467 

Effects of the Treaty ... 467 

Randolph's Resignation and Vindication ;- "i - . . . . 468 

British Treaty opposed in the House of Representatives . . 470 



Power of forming Treaties 470 

President refuses the Request of the House to furnish Papers 471 

Endeavors to procure the Release of Lafayette .... 471 

Writes to the Emperor of Germany 472 

French Minister objects to the British Treaty . . . 473 

Washington's Farewell Address ... . . . 474 

Meets Congress for the last Time . v '. r - * . 475 

Anecdote . ' 477 

His Journey to Mount Vernon . . . . 477 

Review of Washington's Administration . . , * 477 

Jefferson's Conduct towards Washington . ; . . 478 

Devotes himself again to his private Affairs . 481 

His daily Occupations . . . . v . . 481 

Conduct of the French Directory 482 

Congress prepare for War . . * . 483 

Washington appointed to the Command of Jie Army . . 483 

Engaged in the Affairs of the Army . *''. . . 485 

Disputes with France adjusted 486 

Washington's last Illness .... ... 486 

His Death . . * . . . . . . . 487, 

Proceedings of Congress on that Occasion ... . 488 

His Character ... . 490 


No. I. Origin and Genealogy of the Washington Family . 497 
No. II. Rules of Behavior . . * . . . . 513 
No. III. General Washington's Expenses while acting as Com 
mander-in-chief of the American Armies . . 516 
No. IV. Religious Opinions and Habits of Washington , . . 518 
No. V. Washington's Farewell Address .... 525 
No. VI. Last Illness and Death of Washington , - ,. . 531 
No. VII. Proceedings of Congress in Consequence of the Death 

of Washington 539 

No. VIII. Character of Washington 544 

No. IX. Washington's Will .... 545 





Origin of the Washington Family. John and Lawrence Washington emi 
grate to America. Birth of George Washington. His early Education. 
His Fondness for mathematical Studies and athletic Amusements, and his 
methodical Habits. A Project formed for his entering the British Navy as a 
Midshipman. He becomes a practical Surveyor. Engages in the Em 
ployment of Lord Fairfax. Continues the Business of Surveying for three 
Years. Appointed Adjutant of one of the Districts in Virginia. Voyage 
to Barbadoes with his Brother. 

THE name of WASHINGTON, as applied to a family, is CHAPTER 
proved from authentic records to have been first known 
about the middle of the thirteenth century. There was 
previously a manor of that name in the County of Dur 
ham, in England, the proprietor of which, according to a 
custom not unusual in those days, took the name of his 
estate. From this gentleman, who was originally called 
William de Hertburn, have descended the branches of the 
Washington family, which have since spread themselves 
over various parts of Great Britain and America. 

Few individuals of the family have attained to such 
eminence in the eye of the public, as to give perpetuity to 
the memory of their deeds or their character ; yet, in the 
local histories of England, the name is frequently mention 
ed with respect, and as denoting persons of consideration, 
wealth, and influence. Among them were scholars, divines, 
and lawyers, well known to their contemporaries. Several 
received the honors of knighthood. Sir Henry Washington 


CHAPTER is renowned for his bravery and address in sustaining the 
' siege of Worcester against the Parliamentary forces dur 
ing the civil wars, and is commended by Clarendon for his 
good conduct at the taking of Bristol. For the most part 
it would appear, however, from such facts as can now 
be ascertained, that the heads of families were substantial 
proprietors of lands, residing on their estates, and holding 
a reputable station in the higher class of agriculturists. 
Proofs of their opulence may still be seen in the monu 
ments erected in churches, and the records of the transfer 
of property. 

i n the year 1538, the manor of Sulgrave, in Northamp 
tonshire, was granted to Lawrence Washington, of Gray's 
Inn, and for some time Mayor of Northampton. He was 
probably born at Warton, in Lancashire, where his father 
lived. The grandson of this first proprietor of Sulgrave, 
who was of the same name, had many children, two of 
whom, that is, John and Lawrence Washington, being the 
second and fourth sons, emigrated to Virginia about the year 
1657, and settled at Bridge's Creek, on the Potomac River, 
in the County of Westmoreland. The eldest brother, Sir 
William Washington, married a half-sister of George Vil- 
liers, Duke of Buckingham. Lawrence had been a student 
at Oxford. John had resided on an estate at South Cave 
in Yorkshire, which gave rise to an erroneous tradition 
among his descendants, that their ancestor came from the 
North of England. The two brothers bought lands in 
Virginia, and became successful planters. 

John wash- John Washington, not long after coming to America, was 
employed in a military command against the Indians, and 
rose to the rank of Colonel. The parish in which he lived 
was also named after him. He married Anne Pope, by 
whom he had two sons, Lawrence and John, and a daugh 
ter. The elder son, Lawrence, married Mildred Warner, of 
Gloucester County, and had three children, John, Augus 
tine, and Mildred. 

Augustine Washington, the second son, was twice marri 
ed. His first wife was Jane Butler, by whom he had three 


sons and a daughter ; Butler, who died in infancy, Law- CHAPTER 
rence, Augustine, and Jane, the last of whom died likewise 
when a child. By his second wife, Mary Ball, to whom 
he was married on the 6th of March, 1730, he had six 
children, GEORGE, Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles, 
and Mildred. GEORGE WASHINGTON was born in We^t- Birth of 
moreland County, Virginia, on the 22d of February, 1732, Washington, 
being the eldest son by the second marriage, great grand 
son of John Washington, who emigrated to America, and 
the sixth in descent from the first Lawrence Washington 
of Sulgrave.* 

At the time of George Washington's birth, his father 
resided near the banks of the Potomac in Westmoreland 
County ; but he removed not long afterwards to an estate 
owned by him in Stafford County, on the east side of the 
Rappahannoc River, opposite Fredericksburg. Here he liv- Death of his 
ed till his death, which happened, after a sudden and 
short illness, on the 12th of April, 1743, at the age of forty- 
nine. He was buried at Bridge's Creek, in the tomb of his 
ancestors. Little is known of his character or his acts. It 
appears by his will, however, that he possessed a large and 
valuable property in lands ; and, as this had been acquired 
chiefly by his own industry and enterprise, it may be in 
ferred, that, iii the concerns of business, he was methodical, 
skilful, honorable, and energetic. His occupation was that 
of a planter, which, from the first settlement of the coun 
try, had been the pursuit of nearly all the principal gentle 
men of Virginia. 

Each of his sons inherited from him a separate plantation. HW father's 
To the eldest, Lawrence, he bequeathed an estate near 
Hunting, Creek, afterwards Mount Vernon, which then con 
sisted of twenty-five hundred acres ; and also other lands, 
and shares in iron-works situated in Virginia and Maryland, 
which were productive. The second son had for his part 
an estate in Westmoreland. To George were left the lands 
and mansion where his father lived at the time of his de- 

* See an account of the Washington Family in the Appendix, No. I. 


cease ; and to each of the other sons an estate of six or 
seven hundred acres. The youngest daughter died when 
an infant, and for the only remaining one a suitable provis 
ion was made in the will. It is thus seen, that Augustine 
Washington, although suddenly cut off in the vigor of man 
hood, left all his children in a state of comparative inde 
pendence. Confiding in the prudence of the mother, he 
directed that the proceeds of all the property of her chil 
dren should be at her disposal, till they should respectively 
come of age. 

HIS mother. This weighty charge of five young children, the eldest 
of whom was eleven years old, the superintendence of their 
education, and the management of complicated affairs, de 
manded no common share of resolution, resource of mind, 
and strength of character. In these important duties Mrs. 
Washington acquitted herself with great fidelity to her 
trust, and with entire success. Her good sense, assiduity, 
tenderness, and vigilance overcame every obstacle ; and, as 
the richest reward of a mother's solicitude and toil, she had 
the happiness to see all her children come forward with a 
fair promise into life, filling the sphere allotted to them in 
a manner equally honorable to themselves, and to the parent 
who had been the only guide of their principles, conduct, 
and habits. She lived to witness the noble career of her 
eldest son, till by his own rare merits he was raised to the 
head of a nation, and applauded and revered by the whole 
world. It has been said, that there never was a great 
man, the elements of whose greatness might not be traced 
to the original characteristics or early influence of his moth 
er. If this be true, how much do mankind owe to the 
mother of Washington. 

state of edu- Under the colonial governments, particularly in the south- 
cation in the J 
colonies. ern provinces, the means of education were circumscribed. 

The thinness of population, and the broad line which sepa 
rated the rich from the poor, prevented the establishment of 
schools on such a basis as would open the door of instruc 
tion to all classes, and thus prepare the way for higher 
seminaries of learning. Young men destined for the learned 


professions, whose parents could afford the expense, were CHAPTER 
occasionally sent to England. But the planters generally L 
sought no other education for their sons, than such as would 
fit them to be practical men of business. In a few cases, 
this was derived from a private tutor ; in others, from a 
teacher of the common schools, whose qualifications would 
naturally be limited to the demands of his employers, and 
who was seldom competent to impart more than the sim 
plest elements of knowledge. When he had inculcated 
the mysteries of reading, writing, arithmetic, and keeping 
accounts, his skill was exhausted, and the duties of his 
vocation were fulfilled. If his pupils aspired to higher at 
tainments, they were compelled to leave their master be 
hind, and find their way without a guide. 

To a school of .this description was George Washington His early 

studies and 

indebted for all the aids his mind received in its early dis- babita. 
cipline and culture. How far he profited by these slender 
advantages, or was distinguished for his application and love 
of study, can only be conjectured from the results. Tradi 
tion reports, that he was inquisitive, docile, and diligent ; 
but it adds, that his military propensities and passion for 
active sports displayed themselves in his boyhood ; that he 
formed his schoolmates into companies, who paraded, march 
ed, and fought mimic battles, in which he was always the 
commander of one of the parties. He had a fondness for 
the athletic amusements of running, jumping, wrestling, 
tossing bars, and other feats of agility and bodily exercise. 
Indeed it is well known, that these practices were con 
tinued by him after he had arrived at the age of mature 
life. It has also been said, that while at school his pro 
bity and demeanor were such, as to win the deference of 
the other boys, who were accustomed to make him the 
arbiter .of their disputes, and never failed to be satisfied 
with his judgment. Such are some of the incidents of his 
juvenile years, remembered and related by his contempo 
raries after he had risen to greatness. 

There are not wanting evidences of his early proficiency HIS cany 
in some branches of study. His manuscript schoolbooks, 


CHAPTER from the time he was thirteen years old, have been pre- 
L served. He had already mastered the difficult parts of 
arithmetic, and these books begin with geometry. But 
there is one, of a previous date, which deserves notice, as 
giving an insight into the original cast of his mind, and 
the subjects to which his education was directed. It is 
singular, that a boy of thirteen should occupy himself in 
studying the dry and intricate forms of business, which 
are rarely attended to till the aifairs of life call them into 
use, and even then rather as an act of necessity than of 
pleasure. But many pages of the manuscript in question 
are taken up with copies of what he calls Forms of Writ 
ing, such as notes of hand, bills of exchange, receipts, 
bonds, indentures, bills of sale, land warrants, leases, deeds, 
and wills, written out with care, the prominent words in 
large and varied characters in imitation of a clerk's hand. 
Then follow selections in rhyme, more distinguished for 
the sentiments they contain, and the religious tone that 
pervades them, than for their poetical beauties. 

Rules of Be- But the most remarkable part of the book is that, in 
which is compiled a system of maxims, and regulations 
of conduct, drawn from miscellaneous sources, and arrang 
ed under the head of Rules of Behavior in Company and 
Conversation. Some of these are unimportant, and suited 
only to form the habits of a child ; others are of a higher 
import, fitted to soften and polish the manners, to keep 
alive the best affections of the heart, to impress the obli 
gation of the moral virtues, to teach what is due to others 
in the social relations, and above all to inculcate the prac 
tice of a perfect self-control. * 

ih2e tS Ruies ^ n stu( tying tne character of Washington it is obvious, 
that this code of rules had an influence upon his whole 
life. His temperament was ardent, his passions strong, 
and, amidst the multiplied scenes of temptation and ex 
citement through which he passed, it was his constant 

* A selection from these Rules of Behavior may be found in the 
Appendix, No. II. 


effort and ultimate triumph to check the one and subdue CHAPTER 
the other. His intercourse with men, private and public, L 
in every walk and station, was marked with a consis 
tency, a fitness to occasions, a dignity, decorum, conde 
scension, and mildness, a respect for the claims of others, 
and a delicate perception of the nicer shades of civility, 
which were not more the dictates of his native good 
sense and incomparable judgment, than the fruits of a 
long and unwearied discipline. 

He left school in the autumn preceding his sixteenth Leaves 
birthday. The last two years had been devoted to the 
study of geometry, trigonometry, and surveying, for which 
he had a decided partiality. It is probable, also, that 
his friends, discovering this inclination, encouraged him 
in yielding to it, with the view of qualifying him for 
the profession of a surveyor, which was then a lucrative 
employment, and led to opportunities of selecting valuable 
new lands. During the last summer he was at school, 
we find him surveying the fields around the schoolhouse 
and in the adjoining plantations, of which the boundaries, 
angles, and measurements, the plots and calculations, are 
entered with formality and precision in his books. 

Nor was his skill confined to the more simple processes Hisskiiim 
of the art. He used logarithms, and proved the accuracy ics 
of his work by different methods. The manuscripts fill 
several quires of paper, and are remarkable for the care 
with which they were kept, the neatness and uniformity 
of the handwriting, the beauty of the diagrams, and a 
precise method and arrangement in copying out tables 
and columns of figures. 

These particulars will not be thought too trivial to Habits of 
be mentioned, when it is known, that he retained simi 
lar habits through life. His business papers, daybooks, 
legers, and letter books, in which before the revolution no 
one wrote but himself, exhibit specimens of the same 
studious care and exactness. Every fact occupies a clear 
and distinct place, the handwriting is round and regular, 
without interlineations, blots, or blemishes ; and, if mis- 


CHAPTER takes occurred, the faulty words were so skilfully erased 
** and corrected, as to render the defect invisible except to 
a scrutinizing eye. The constructing of tables, diagrams, 
and other figures relating to numbers or classification, 
was an exercise in which he seems at all times to have 
taken much delight. If any of his farms were to be 
divided into new lots, a plan was first drawn on paper; 
if he meditated a rotation of crops, or a change in the 
mode of culture, the various items of expense, labor, pro 
ducts, and profits were reduced to tabular forms ; and in 
his written instructions to his managers, which were an 
nually repeated, the same method was pursued. 

While at the head of the army this habit was of espe 
cial service to him. The names and rank of the officers, 
the returns of the adjutants, commissaries, and quarter 
masters, were compressed by him into systematic tables, 
so contrived as to fix strongly in his mind the most essen 
tial parts, without being encumbered with details. When 
the army was to march, or perform any movements re 
quiring combination and concert, a scheme was first de 
lineated ; and at the beginning of an active campaign, or 
in the preparation for a detached enterprise, the line of 
battle was projected and sketched on paper, each officer 
being assigned to his post, with the names of the regi 
ments and strength of the forces he was to command. 

During the presidency it was likewise his custom to 
subject the treasury reports and accompanying documents 
to the process of tabular condensation, with a vast expen 
diture of labor and patience ; but it enabled him to grasp 
and retain in their order a series of isolated facts, and the 
results of a complicated mass of figures, which could 
never have been mastered so effectually by any other 
mode of approaching them. Such were some of the bene 
fits of those parts of his education, to which he was led 
by the natural bent of his mind. 

oniy'Tuie Except the above branches of the mathematics, his 
acquirements did not extend beyond the subjects usually 
taught to boys of his age at the common schools. It is 


even doubtful whether he received any instruction in the CHAPTER 
principles of language. His earliest compositions were of- *' 
ten faulty in grammatical construction. By practice, read 
ing, and study, he gradually overcame this defect, till 
at length he wrote with accuracy, purity of idiom, and 
a striking appropriateness of phraseology and clearness of 
style. In the choice of his words, to express precisely 
and forcibly his meaning, he was always scrupulous. In 
this respect his language may be said to have reflected 
the image of his mind, in which candor, sincerity, and 
directness were prevailing traits. 

No aid was derived from any other than his native Acquainted 
tongue. He never even commenced the study of the an- foreign 
cient classics. After the French officers had joined the 
American army in the revolution, and particularly while 
the forces under Count de Rochambeau were in the coun 
try, he bestowed some degree of attention on that lan 
guage ; but at no time could he write or converse in it, 
or indeed translate any paper. 

While at school a project was entertained by his friends. Proposal 

for him to 

which, if it had been matured, would have changed his enter the 
own destiny, and perhaps have produced an important 
influence upon that of his country. His eldest brother, 
Lawrence, had been an officer in the late war, and served 
at the siege of Carthagena and in the West Indies. Being 
a well informed and accomplished gentleman, he had ac 
quired the esteem and confidence of General Wentworth 
and Admiral Vernon, the commanders of the expedition, 
with whom he afterwards kept up a friendly correspon 
dence. Having observed the military turn of his young 
brother, and looking upon the British navy as the most 
direct road to distinction in that line, he obtained for 
George a midshipman's warrant, in the year 1746, when 
he was fourteen years old. This step was taken with his 
acquiescence, if not at his request, and he prepared with 
a buoyant spirit for his departure ; but, as the time ap 
proached, the solicitude of his mother interposed with an 
authority, to which nature gave a claim. 


CHAPTER At this critical juncture, Mr. Jackson, a friend of the 

_^ family, wrote to Lawrence Washington as follows. " I am 

afraid Mrs. Washington will not keep up to her first res- 
Thisstep olution. She seems to dislike George's going to sea, and 


by his mo- says several persons have told her it was a bad scheme. 
She offers several trifling objections, such as fond, un 
thinking mothers habitually suggest; and I find that one 
word against his going has more weight than ten for it." 
She persisted in opposing the plan, and it was given up. 
Nor ought this decision to be ascribed to obstinacy, or 
maternal weakness. This' was her eldest son, whose char 
acter and manners must already have exhibited a promise, 
full of solace and hope to a widowed mother, on whom 
alone devolved the charge of four younger children. To 
see him separated from her at so tender an age, exposed to 
the perils of accident and the world's rough usage, with 
out a parent's voice to counsel or a parent's hand to guide, 
and to enter on a theatre of action, which would for ever 
remove him from her presence, was a trial of her fortitude 
and sense of duty, which she could not be expected to 
hazard without reluctance and concern. 

Resides with Soon after leaving school he went to reside with his 

his brother 

Lawrence, brother Lawrence, at his seat on the Potomac River, 
which had been called Mount Vernon, in compliment to 
the admiral of that name. The winter was passed in his 
favorite study of the mathematics, and in the exercise of 
practical surveying, merely with the view of becoming fa 
miliar with the application of principles and the use of 
instruments. At this time he was introduced to Lord 
Fairfax, and other members of the Fairfax family, estab 
lished in that part of Virginia. 

Lawrence Washington had married a daughter of Wil 
liam Fairfax, a gentleman of consideration on account of 
his wealth, character, and political station, being many 
years a member and for some time president of his Ma 
jesty's Council in the Colony. His seat was at Belvoir, 
a short distance from Mount Vernon. He had an inter 
esting family of several sons and daughters, intelligent 


and cultivated, with whom George associated on terms CHAPTER 
of intimacy, and formed attachments that were ever after L 
valuable to him. In the father he found a friend and 
adviser, as well as a man skilled in affairs, of wide ex 
perience, and of an enlightened understanding. To his 
fortunate acquaintance with this family he was mainly 
indebted for the opportunities of performing those acts, 
which laid, the foundation of his subsequent successes 
and advancement. 

Lord Fairfax, a distant relative of William Fairfax, was Lord 
a man of an eccentric turn of mind, of great private 
worth, generous, and hospitable. He had been. accustom 
ed to the best society to which his rank entitled him 
in England. While at the University of Oxford he had 
a fondness for literature, and his taste and skill in that 
line may be inferred from his having written some of 
the papers in the Spectator. Possessing by inheritance 
a vast tract of country, situate between the Potomac and 
Rappahannoc Rivers, and stretching across the Allegany 
Mountains, he made a voyage to Virginia to examine 
this domain. So well pleased was he with the climate 
and mode of life that he resolved, after going back to 
England and arranging his affairs, to return and spend 
his days in the midst of this wild territory. 

At the time of which we are now speaking, he had 
just arrived to execute his purpose, and was residing 
with his relative at Belvoir. This was his home for 
several years; but he at length removed over the Blue 
Ridge, built a house in the Shenandoah valley, called 
Greenway Court, and cultivated a large farm. Here he 
lived in comparative seclusion, often amusing himself with 
hunting, but chiefly devoted to the care of his estate, 
to acts of benevolence among his tenants, and to such 
public duties as devolved upon him, in the narrow sphere 
he had chosen; a friend of liberty, honored for his up 
rightness, esteemed for the amenity of his manners and 
his practical virtues. He died at the advanced age of 
ninety-two, near the close of the American revolution. 



[JET. 16. 



surveyor of 
Lord Fair 
fax's lands. 

Employed as 
among the 

William Fairfax was born in England. He joined the 
army in early life, and served in Spain ; went next to 
the East Indies, and afterwards took part in an expedi 
tion against the Island of New Providence. He was suc 
cessively governor of that Island, and chief justice of the 
Bahamas; and was thence transferred at his request to 
an office in New England. While there he yielded to 
the solicitation of Lord Fairfax to take the agency of 
his affairs in Virginia, and had been several years in 
that employment, when the latter assumed the charge 
into his own hands. 

The immense tracts of wild lands, belonging to Lord 
Fairfax in the rich valleys of the Allegany Mountains, 
had not been surveyed. Settlers were finding their way 
up the streams, selecting the fertile places, and securing 
an occupancy without warrant or license. To enable the 
proprietor to claim his quitrents and give legal titles, it 
was necessary that those lands should be divided into 
lots and accurately measured. So favorable an opinion 
had he formed of the abilities and attainments of young 
Washington, that he intrusted to him this responsible ser 
vice ; and he set off on his first surveying expedition in 
March, just a month from the day he was sixteen years 
old, accompanied by George Fairfax, the eldest son of 
William Fairfax. 

The enterprise was arduous, requiring discretion and 
skill, and attended with privations and fatigues to which 
he had not been accustomed. After crossing the first 
range of the Alleganies, the party entered a wilderness. 
From that time their nights were passed under the open 
sky, or in tents or rude cabins affording but a treacher 
ous shelter against the inclemency of the weather. The 
winds sometimes beat upon them, and prostrated them to 
the ground. Winter still lingered on the summits of the 
mountains ; the rivers, swollen by melting snows and re 
cent rains, were impassable at the usual fords, except by 
swimming the horses ; the roads and paths through the 
woods were obstructed by swamps, rocks, and precipices. 


The lands surveyed by him lay on the South Branch of CHAPTER 
the Potomac, seventy miles above its junction with the L 
other branch of that river. 1749. 

The task was executed in such a manner, as to give 
entire satisfaction to his employer, confirm the good opin 
ion of his friends, and establish his reputation as a sur 
veyor. On other accounts it was beneficial to him. It 
inspired a confidence 'in himself, kindled fresh hopes, and 
prepared the way for new successes. He had moreover 
acquired a knowledge of parts of the country hitherto 
little known, which were to be the scene of his first 
military operations; and had witnessed modes of life, 
with which it was necessary for him to become familiar 
in fulfilling the high trusts that awaited him. During 
this expedition he was also present at an Indian war- 
dance, and had his first interview with a race, on whose 
condition in peace and war he was to have a wider in 
fluence than any other man. 

Having received a commission, or appointment, as a public JjjJIJ"^ 
surveyor, which gave authority to his surveys and enabled P ublic sur - 
him to enter them in the county offices, he devoted three 
years to this pursuit, without any intervals of relaxation 
except the winter months. Portions of each year were pass 
ed among the Alleganies, where he surveyed lands on 
branches of the Potomac 'River, which penetrated far in 
a southern direction among the lofty ridges and spurs of 
those mountains. The exposures and hardships of these ex 
peditions could be endured only for a few weeks together. 
As a relief, he would come down into the settled parts, 
and survey private tracts and farms, thus applying himself 
to the uninterrupted exercise of his profession. 

There being few surveyors at that time in Virginia, and ^ e , 8 in 
the demand for them large, the pay allowed for their ser- ^entfor 

three years. 

vices was proportionably high. By diligence and habits 
of despatch, the employment was lucrative ; and, what 
was more important, his probity and talents for business 
were t a very early age made known to gentlemen, whose 
standing in society rendered then* friendship and interest 





Military In- 
specter with 
the rank of 

tor military 
studies and 

Hails with 
his brother 
for Barba- 


a substantial benefit. During these three years his home 
was with his brother at Mount Vernon, as being nearer the 
scene of his labors than his mother's residence ; but he 
often visited her, and assisted in the superintendence of 
her affairs. 

At the age of nineteen his character had made so favor 
able an impression, that he was appointed to an office of 
considerable distinction and responsibility by the govern 
ment of Virginia. The frontiers were threatened with In 
dian depredations and French encroachments, and, as a 
precautionary measure, it was resolved to put the militia in 
a condition for defence. To carry this into effect, the 
province was divided into districts, having in each an of 
ficer called an adjutant-general with the rank of major, 
whose duty it was to assemble and exercise the militia, 
inspect their arms, and enforce all the regulations for dis 
cipline prescribed by the laws. George Washington was 
commissioned to take charge of one of these districts. The 
post was probably obtained through the influence of his 
brother and William Fairfax, the former a delegate in 
the House of Burgesses, the latter a member of the gov 
ernor's Council. The pay was one hundred and fifty 
pounds a year. 

His military propensities had not subsided. They rather 
increased with his years. In Virginia were many officers, 
besides his brother, who had served in the recent war. 
Under their tuition he studied tactics, learned the manual 
exercise, and became expert in the use of the sword. He 
read the principal books on the military art, and joined 
practice to theory as far as circumstances would permit. 
This new station, therefore, was in accordance with his 
inclinations, and he entered upon it with alacrity and zeal. 

But he had scarcely engaged in this service, when he 
was called to perform another duty, deeply interesting in 
its claims on his sensibility and fraternal affection. Law 
rence Washington, originally of a slender constitution, had 
been for some time suffering under a pulmonary attack, 
which was now thought to be approaching a dangerous 


crisis. TJie physicians recommended a voyage to the West CHAPTER 
Indies, and the experiment of a warmer climate. The ] ' 
necessity of having some friend near him, and his attach- 1751. 
ment to George were reasons for desiring his company. 
They sailed for Barbadoes in the month of September, 1751, 
and landed on that island after a passage of five weeks. 

The change of air, the hospitality of the inhabitants, the ^ r tu 8 to 
novelty of the scene, and the assiduous attentions of his 
brother, revived the spirits of the patient, and seemed at 
first to renovate his strength. But the hope was delusive, 
and the old symptoms returned. The trial of a few weeks 
produced no essential alteration for the better ; and he deter 
mined to proceed to Bermuda in the spring, and that in the 
mean time his brother should go back to Virginia, and ac 
company his wife to that island. Accordingly, George took 
passage in a vessel bound to the Chesapeake, and, after 
encountering a most tempestuous voyage, reached home in 
February, having been absent somewhat more than four 

He had been but a short time in Barbadoes, when he was Haa n the 

J smallpox tn 

seized with the smallpox. The disease was severe, but, 
with the aid of good medical attendance, he was able to go 
abroad in three weeks. The journal kept by him during 
the two voyages, and at Barbadoes, fragments of which have 
been preserved, shows the same habits of minute observa 
tion and power of deducing general results from small par 
ticulars, which distinguished him on all occasions. At sea 
he daily copied the log-book, noted the course of the winds, 
the state of the weather, the progress of the ship, and inci 
dental occurrences, applying to navigation the knowledge 
he had gained of a kindred art. In the Island of Barbadoes, 
every thing attracted his notice ; the soil, agricultural pro 
ducts, modes of culture, fruits, commerce, military force, 
fortifications, manners of the inhabitants, municipal regula 
tions, and government ; on all of which he wrote down 
summary remarks in his journal.* 

* The following is an extract from his journal, written at the time 
of his leaving the Island. " The Governor of Barbadoes seems to keep 


The first letter from his brother at Bermuda gave an 
encouraging account of his health, and expressed a wish 
that his wife should join him there ; but it was followed 
by another, of a different tenor, which prevented her depar 
ture. Finding no essential relief, he came home in the 
summer, and sank rapidly into his grave, at the age of 
thirty-four, leaving a wife, an infant daughter, and a large 
circle of friends, to deplore a loss keenly felt by them all. 
Few men have been more beloved for their amiable quali 
ties, or admired for those higher traits of character, which 
give dignity to virtue, and a charm to accomplishments of 
mind and manners. 

Si?" o?his ^ tn * s me l ancn ly event, new duties and responsibilities 
devolved upon George. Large estates were left by the 
deceased brother, the immediate care of which demanded 
his oversight. He had likewise been appointed one of the 
executors of the will, in which was an eventual interest of 
considerable magnitude pertaining to himself. The estate 
at Mount Vernon was bequeathed to the surviving daugh 
ter ; and, in case of her demise without issue, this estate 

a proper state, lives very retired and at little expense, and is a gentle 
man of good sense. As he avoids the errors of his predecessor, he 
gives no handle for complaint ; but, at the same time, by declining much 
familiarity, he is not over- zealously beloved. Hospitality and a genteel 
behavior are shown to every gentleman stranger by the gentlemen in 
habitants. Taverns they have none, except in the towns ; so that trav 
ellers are obliged to go to private houses. The people are said to live 
to a great age where they are not intemperate. They are, however, 
very unhappy in regard to their officers' fees, which are not paid by 
any law. They complain particularly of the provost-marshal, or sheriff- 
general, of the island, patented at home and rented at eight hundred 
pounds a year. Every other officer is exorbitant in his demands. There 
are few, who may be called middling people. They are very rich or 
very poor ; for by a law of the island every gentleman is obliged to keep 
a white person for every ten acres, capable of acting in the militia, and 
consequently the persons so kept cannot but be very poor. They are 
well disciplined, and appointed to their several stations ; so that in any 
alarm every man may be at his post in less than two hours. They have 
large intrenchments cast up wherever it is possible to land, and, as 
nature has greatly assisted, the island may not improperly be said to 
be one entire fortification." 



and other lands were to descend to George, with the reser 
vation of the use of the same to the wife during her lifetime. 
Although he was the youngest executor, yet his acquaint- 
ance with his brother's concerns, and the confidence always 
reposed in him by the deceased, were grounds for placing the 
business principally in his hands. His time and thoughts, 
for several months, were taken up with these affairs, compli 
cated in their nature, and requiring delicacy and caution in 
their management. 

His private employments, however, did not draw him His duties 

... a 8 adjutant- 

away from his public duties as adjutant-general. Indeed general 
the sphere of that office was enlarged. Soon after Governor 
Dinwiddie came -to Virginia, the colony was portioned into 
four grand military divisions. Major Washington's appoint 
ment was then renewed, and the northern division was 
allotted to him. It included several counties, each of which 
was to be visited at stated times by the adjutant, in order 
to train and instruct the militia officers, review the com 
panies on parade, inspect the arms and accoutrements, and 
establish a uniform system of manceuvres and discipline. 
These exercises, so congenial to his taste, were equally 
advantageous to himself and to the subordinate officers, who 
could not fail to be animated by his example, activity, and 






The French taake Encroachments on the Western Frontiers of Virginia. 
Claims of the French and English to the Western Territory considered. 
Major Washington is sent by the Governor of Virginia to warn the Intru 
ders to retire. Crosses the Allegany Mountains. Meets Indians on the 
Ohio River, who accompany him to the French Garrison. Indian Speech. 
Interviews with the French Commander. Perilous Adventures during 
his Journey, and in crossing the Allegany River. Returns to Williams- 
burg and reports to the Governor. His Journal published. He is ap 
pointed to the Command of Troops to repel the Invasion of the Frontiers. 
Governor Dinwiddie. 

THE time was now at hand, when the higher destinies 
of Washington were to unfold themselves. Intelligence 
1753. came from the frontiers, that the French had crossed the 
Encroach- Lakes from Canada in force, and were about to establish 

menta of the .. _ . _ c i /-^t T 

French and posts and erect tortitications on the waters 01 the Ohio. It 


was rumored, also, that, alarmed for their safety, the friendly 
Indians were beginning to waver in their fidelity ; and the 
hostile tribes, encouraged by the presence and support of the 
French, exhibited symptoms of open war. The crisis, in 
the opinion of Governor Dinwiddie and his Council, called 
for an immediate inquiry. A messenger had already been 
sent over the mountains, in the character of a trader, with 
presents of powder, lead, and guns for the Indians, instruct 
ed to ascertain their temper, penetrate their designs, and, 
above all, to trace out the artifices and movements of the 

This messenger, either intimidated or deceived by the 
savages, executed his mission imperfectly. He went as far 
as the Ohio River, met some of the friend* y sachems, deliv 
ered his presents, stayed a few days with, them, and then 
returned. He brought back various reports concerning the 
French, narrated to him by the Indians, who had been in 
their camp at Lake Erie, and who magnified their strength 
and formidable appearance, telling him, that they took every 
Englishman prisoner, whom they found beyond the Allega- 


nies, because all that country belonged to the French King, CHAPTER 

and no Englishman had a right to trade with the Indians in 

the King's territory. 1753. 

In the mean time the British ministry, anticipating from 
the political aspect of affairs a rupture with France, de- 
spatched orders to the governor of Virginia to build two forts 
near the Ohio River, for the purpose of securing possession, 
driving off intruders, and retaining the alliance of the In 
dians, or holding them in check/ Thirty pieces of light 
cannon and eighty barrels of powder were sent out from 
England for the use of the forts. 

These orders came too late. Before they arrived, the 
governor of Canada had been diligently employed for a 
whole season in pushing forward troops across the Lakes, 
with munitions of war and other supplies, and a footing had 
already been gained in the heart of the disputed territory. 
Bodies of armed men had likewise ascended the Mississippi 
from New Orleans to act in concert, and established them 
selves on the southern waters of the Ohio. The object was 
to form a line of military posts from Louisiana to Canada, 
and thus confine the western limits of the English colonies 
within the Allegany Mountains. Thus far had the French 
advanced, before the British government began any active 
measures to counteract them. 

A question here occurs, of much historical interest, but Questions as 

to the title 

of too wide a compass to be discussed in this place. What of the French 

or English to 

right had England or France to the territory in dispute ? 
Although each party set up many pretensions, it would be 
difficult in reviewing them to stril^ the balance, because, 
when compared, it could not be shown, that even a plau 
sible argument existed in favor of either side. England 
rested her claims on Indian treaties, and the French fortified 
theirs by still higher authority, the treaties of Ryswick, 
Utrecht, and Aix-la-Chapelle, and by the fact of prior dis 

It was always the policy of the English to keep up a English 
good understanding with the Six Nations, a powerful con 
federacy bordering on Lake Ontario. By their position they 



[JEr. 21, 


CHAPTER formed a barrier against the French in Canada; and, as 
they had no good will towards their Indian neighbors on 
1753. the other side of the Lakes, who adhered to the French, it 
was found practicable, by repeated presents and a good deal 
of management, to retain their friendship. These tribes 
pretended, that at some remote period they had conquered 
all the region west of the mountains, as far as the Missis 
sippi River. On the strength of this assumption, they made 
treaties with the English, ceding to them the lands within 
that space, and confirming the title by such forms as were 
prescribed to them. This was the basis of the English 
claim. But the Indians dwelling on the lands, and whose 
ancestors from time immemorial had dwelt there, neither 
participated in these treaties nor assented to them. On the 
contrary, they declared themselves the only rightful owners, 
and denied the authority of the Six Nations to meddle in 
the matter. 

The French insisted on the right of discovery and occu 
pancy. Father Marquette, La Salle, and others, they said, 
had descended the Mississippi, and settlements had been 
made south of Lake Michigan and on the Illinois River, 
years before any Englishman had set his foot westward 
of the great mountains ; and European treaties, in which 
England was a party, had repeatedly recognised the title 
of France to all her actual possessions in America. So far 
the ground was tenable. But a position was assumed, as 
a concomitant or consequence, of a more dubious character. 
The French maintained it to be an axiom in the law of 
nations, that the discovery of a river gave the discoverer 
a right to all the country watered by the streams flowing 
into it. Hence the passing of Father Marquette down the 
Mississippi in a canoe, invested his sovereign with a title 
to the immense valley bounded by the Appalachian Moun 
tains on one side, and the Rocky Mountains on the other. 
However gravely such a hypothesis may be advanced, 
however ingeniously defended, its fallacy is too obvious to 
be pointed out. 


From these hints it is clear, that neither of the contend- CHAPTER 

ing parties had any just claim to the lands, about which 

they were beginning to kindle the flames of war. They 1753. 
were both intruders upon the soil of the native occupants. 
Of these proprietors, it was not pretended, that any purchase 
had been made or attempted. It was not strange, that they thesoil - 
should look with astonishment upon so singular a transac 
tion, as that of two nations, in distant parts of the world 
unknown to them, entering into a quarrel about the right of 
seizing their property. When Mr. Gist went into that coun 
try, on a tour of observation for the Ohio Company, two 
sachems sent a messenger to ask him "where the Indians' 
lands lay, for the French claimed all the land on one side 
of the Ohio River, and the English on the other. This 
pertinent inquiry contains a forcible statement of the 
whole merits of the case, far outweighing all the treaties 
referred to, whether made in Europe or America. 

Such were some of the original grounds of the contest, in ^gjjj 
which nearly all Europe was involved, and which terminat- the war. 
ed in severing from France the larger portion of her posses 
sions on the western continent. The result is well known. 
The terms of the peace, so humiliating to the national pride 
of France, were endured no longer than till an opportunity 
offered of retaliation and recompense. This presented it 
self much sooner than could have been foreseen, in the 
war of the American revolution ; and it may safely be 
said, that the first blow struck on the Ohio was the be 
ginning of the series of events, which ended thirty years 
afterwards in establishing the independence of the English 
Colonies. We shall hence find Washington acting a prom 
inent part in this great drama from its very commence 
ment to its close, gaining strength and rising higher and 
higher at every stage, the defender of his country's cause, 
equal to all occasions, successful, and triumphant. 

As a first step towards executing the orders of the min- Washington 

. . . , , . , sent as a 

isters, Governor Dinwiddie resolved to send a commissioner 
in due form, and invested with suitable powers, to confer 
with the officer commanding the French forces, and in- 



. 21. 

His instruc 

CHAPTER quire by what authority he presumed to invade the King's 
dominions, and what were his designs. The commission 
was delicate and hazardous, requiring discretion, ability, 
experience in the modes of travelling in the woods, and 
a knowledge of Indian manners. These requisites were 
believed to be combined in Major Washington, and the 
important service was intrusted to him, although as yet 
but twenty-one years old. 

He was instructed to proceed without delay to the Ohio 
River, convene some of the Indian chiefs at a place called 
Logstown, make known to them the objects of his visit, 
and, after having ascertained where the French were sta 
tioned, to request an escort of warriors to be his guides 
and safeguard the rest of the journey. When arrived at 
the principal French post, he was to present his credentials 
and a letter from the governor of Virginia to the com 
mandant, and in the name of his Britannic Majesty to 
demand an answer. He was furthermore to inquire dili 
gently, and by cautious means, into the number of the 
French troops that had crossed the Lakes, the reinforce 
ments expected from Canada, how many forts they had 
erected and at what places, how they were garrisoned and 
appointed, and their distances from each other ; and, in 
short, to procure all the intelligence possible respecting the 
condition and objects of the intruders. 

Fortified with written instructions to this effect, with 
credentials and a passport to which the great seal of the 
colony was affixed, he departed from Williamsburg, the 
seat of government in Virginia, on the 31st of October, 
1753. The distance before him to the extreme point of 
his destination, by the route he would pursue, was about 
five hundred and sixty miles, in great part over lofty and 
rugged mountains, and more than half of the way through 
the heart of a wilderness, where no traces of civilization 
as yet appeared. 

Passing through the towns of Fredericksburg, Alexan 
dria, and Winchester, he arrived at Will's Creek in fourteen 
days. John Davidson had joined him as Indian interpre- 

His depar 


ter; and Jacob Vanbraam, a Dutchman by birth, and for- CHAPTER 
merly an officer in the army, was employed to assist in IL 
his intercourse with the French, being acquainted with 1753. 
their language. At Will's Creek he found Mr. Gist, a 
person long accustomed to the woods, having several times 
penetrated far into the interior, and lately begun a settle 
ment in the valley between the last ridge of the Alle- 
ganies and the Monongahela River. Mr. Gist consented 
to go with him as a guide. Four other men, two of 
them Indian traders, were added as attendants. 

The party was now increased to eight persons. With Crosses the 

r ' Allegany 

horses, tents, baggage, and provisions, suited to the expe- Mountains, 
dition, they left the extreme verge of civilization at Will's 
Creek, and entered the forests. The inclemency of the 
season, the Alleganies covered with snow and the valleys 
flooded by the swelling waters, the rough passages over 
the mountains and the difficulties in crossing the streams 
by frail rafts, fording, or swimming, were obstacles that 
could be overcome but slowly and with patience. They 
at length reached the Fork of the Ohio, where the Monon 
gahela and Allegany unite to form that river. The place 
was critically examined by Major Washington, and he was 
impressed with the advantages it afforded as a military 
post, both for defence and a depository of supplies, in case 
of hostilities in that quarter ; and it was by his advice, 
that a fortification was shortly afterwards begun there, 
which became celebrated in two wars. 

Hastening onward to Logstown, about twenty miles be- Meets the 
low the Fork, he called together some of the Indian chiefs, Logstown. 
and delivered to them the governor's message, soliciting a Nov - 24 - 
guard to the French encampments. The principal sachem 
was Tanacharison, otherwise called the Half-King. He 
was friendly to the English, or rather he was unfriendly 
to the French ; not that he loved one more than the other, 
but he valued his rights and independence. In the sim 
plicity of his heart, he supposed the English sought only 
an intercourse of trade, an exchange of aims, powder, and 
goods, for skins and furs, which would be beneficial to 


[JET. 21. 



CHAPTER the Indians. When the French came with arms in their 
hands, took possession of the country, and built forts, his 
suspicions were awakened, and he saw no other method 
of defeating their designs, than by adhering to the Eng 
lish. Tanacharison, as a deputy from several tribes, had 
been to the head-quarters of the French commandant, and 
made a speech to him, the substance of which he related 
to Major Washington. 

" Fathers, " said he, "I am come to tell you your own 
speeches ; what your own mouths have declared. Fath 
ers, you in former days set a silver basin before us, wherein 
there was the leg of a beaver, and desired all the nations 
to come and eat of it, to eat in peace and. plenty, and 
not to be churlish to one another ; and that if any such 
person should be found to be a disturber, I here lay down 
by the edge of the dish a rod, which you must scourge 
them with ; and if your father should get foolish, in my 
old days, I desire you may use it upon me as well as 

" Now, fathers, it is you who are the disturbers in this 
land, by coming and building your towns, and taking it 
away unknown to us, and by force. 

" Fathers, we kindled a fire a long time ago, at a place 
called Montreal, where we desired you to stay, and not 
to come and intrude upon our land. I now desire you 
may despatch to that place ; for be it known to you, fath 
ers, that this is our land and not yours. 

" Fathers, I desire you may hear me in civilness ; if 
not, we must handle that rod which was laid down for 
the use of the obstreperous. If you had come in a peace 
able manner, like our brothers the English, we would not 
have been against your trading with us as they do ; but 
to come, fathers, and build houses upon our land, and to 
take it by force, is what we cannot submit to. 

" Fathers, both you and the English are white ; we 
live in a country between ; therefore, the land belongs to 
neither one nor . the other. But the Great Being above 
allowed it to be a place of residence for us ; so, fathers, 


I desire you to withdraw, as I have done our brothers the CHAPTER 
English; for I will keep you at arm's length. I lay this n> 
down as a trial for both, to see which will have the great- 1753. 
est regard to it, and that side we will stand by, and make 
equal sharers with us. Our brothers, the English, have- 
heard this, and I come now to tell it to you ; for I am 
not afraid to discharge you off this land." * 

These are the sentiments of a patriot and a hero, but 
the highminded savage was not aware, that, as far as he 
and his race were concerned, there was no difference be 
tween his professed friends and open enemies. He had 
never "studied in the school of politics, which finds an ex 
cuse for rapacity and injustice in the law of nations, nor 
learned that it was the prerogative of civilization to prey 
upon the ignorant and the defenceless. 

The sachems at length met in council, and Major Wash- Indian 


ington addressed to them a speech, explaining the objects promised, 
of his mission, and the wishes of the governor. He then Nov<26 - 

* At a conference held at Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, October, 1753, 
between deputies from the government of that province, of whom Frank 
lin was one, and others from the western Indians, it appeared that two 
messages had been sent to the French before the above speech. Mona- 
catoocha, otherwise called Scarrooyady, who was the principal speaker, 
said, that when the Indians heard of the approach of the French from 
Canada, a council was held at Logstown, and they despatched a mes 
senger, who met them at the Niagara River, and warned them in a 
formal manner not to advance any farther. This had no effect. Again, 
as soon as it was known that the French had entered the Ohio coun 
try, a second messenger met them near Venango, who complained of 
their coming with an armed force into the country, without first explain 
ing their object and motives to the Indians. A haughty answer was 
returned, and Tanacharison was then sent to the French fort with the 
last warning. Monacatoocha recited the speech, which Tanacharison was 
instructed to make, and it is recorded in the Minutes of the Conference. 
It is remarkable that it agrees very exactly, both in its substance and 
figurative language, with the speech as related to Major Washington at 
Logstown, thus affording a proof of the precision with which the Indians 
transacted affairs of this sort, and of the retentiveness of their memory. 
Monacatoocha gave as a reason for their manner of proceeding, that 
the Great Being, who resides above, had ordered them to send three 
messages of peace before they made war. 

4 c 


[JEt. 21. 


Journey to 
the French 

with the 
French com 

Dec. 12. 

gave them a string of wampum, the Indian token of friend 
ship and alliance. They consulted together, and deputed 
Tanacharison to reply in the name of the whole. His 
language was pacific, and the escort was promised ; but, 
the young warriors being out on a hunting party, three or 
/our days were consumed in waiting for their return. As 
his business was pressing, Major Washington could delay 
no longer, and he finally set off, accompanied by four In 
dians only, Tanacharison being of the number. 

The distance to the station of the French commandant 
was one hundred and twenty miles. The journey was 
performed without any important incident, except t Ve- 
nango, one of the French outposts, where various strata 
gems were used to detain the Indians. He was civilly 
treated, however, by Captain Joncaire, the principal officer, 
who told him where the head-quarters were established. 
Rain and snow fell continually, and, after incredible toils 
from exposure and the badness of the travelling through 
an illimitable forest, intersected with deep streams and 
morasses, he was rejoiced to find himself at the end of his 
journey, forty-one days from the time he left Williams- 

M. de St. Pierre, the commandant, was an elderly per 
son, a knight of the military order of St. Louis, and cour 
teous in his manners. At the first interview he promised 
immediate attention to the letter from Governor Dinwid- 
die, and every thing was provided for the convenience 
and comfort of Major Washington and his party while 
they remained at the fort. At the next meeting the com 
mission and letter were produced, read, translated, and de 
liberately explained. The commandant counselled with his 
officers, and in two days an answer was returned. 

The governor's letter asserted, that the lands on the 
Ohio belonged to the crown of Great Britain, expressed 
surprise at the encrcachments of the French, demanded 
by whose authority an armed force had crossed the Lakes, 
and urged a speedy and peaceful departure. M. de St. 
Pierre replied in the style of a soldier, saying it did not 


belong to him to discuss treaties, that such a message CHAPTER 
should have been sent to the Marquis Duquesne, Governor " 
of Canada, by whose instructions he acted, and whose or- * 7 5 3. 
ders he should be careful to obey, and that the summons 
to retire could not be complied with. The tone was re 
spectful, but uncomplying and determined. 

While the French officers were holding consultations, Examines 
and getting the despatch ready, Major Washington took 
an opportunity to look around and examine the fort. His 
attendants were instructed to do the same. He was thus 
enabled to bring away an accurate description of its form, 
size, construction, cannon, and barracks. His men count 
ed the canoes in the river, and such as were partly fin 
ished. The fort was situate on a branch of French Creek, 
about fifteen miles south of Lake Erie. A plan of it, 
drawn by Major Washington, was sent to the British gov 

The snow was falling so fast, that he ordered back his Politely 


horses to Yenango, resolved to go down himself by water, 
a canoe having been offered to him for that purpose. He 
had been entertained with great politeness; nor did the 
complaisance of M. de St. Pierre exhaust itself in mere 
forms of civility. The canoe, by his order, was plenti 
fully stocked with provisions, liquors, and every other sup 
ply that could be wanted. 

But the same artifices were practised and expedients Artifices to 

. i -TT i -i detain the 

tried, as at Venango, to lure away the Indians, and keep Indians, 
them behind. Many temptations were held out, presents 
given, and others promised. The Half-King was a man 
of consequence, whose friendship was not to be lost, if 
it could possibly be retained. He persisted in his reserve, 
however, and now offered a second time to the French 
commandant the speech-belt, or wampum, as indicating 
that the alliance between them was broken off. The lat 
ter refused to accept it, and soothed the savage with soft 
words and fair professions, saying it was his wish to live 
in amity and peace with the Indians, and to trade with 
them, and that he would immediately send goods to their 


[JEr. 21. 

1753 * 

Passage by 
water to 

CHAPTER towns. These attempts to inveigle the Half-King and his 
companions were discovered by Major Washington, who 
complained of the delay, and insinuated the cause. M. de 
St. Pierre was urbane, as usual, seemed ignorant of all 
that passed, could not tell why the Indians stayed, and 
declared nothing should be wanting on his part to fulfil 
Major Washington's desires. Finally, after much perplexi 
ty and trouble, the whole party embarked in a canoe. 

The passage down was fatiguing, slow, and perilous. 
Rocks, shallows, drifting trees, and currents^ kept them in 
constant alarm. " Many times," says Major Washington 
in his Journal, " all hands were obliged to get out, and 
remain in the water half an hour or more in getting over 
the shoals. At one place the ice had lodged, and made 
it impassable by water ; and we were obliged to carry our 
canoe across a neck of land a quarter of a mile over.' 7 
In six days they landed at Venango, a distance of one 
hundred and thirty miles by the winding of the stream. 

The horses were found here, but in so emaciated and 
pitiable a condition, that it was doubtful whether they 
could perform the journey. The baggage and provisions 
were all to be transported on their backs. To lighten 
their burden, as much as possible, Major Washington, clad 
in an Indian walking-dress, determined to proceed on foot, 
with Mr. Gist and Mr. Vanbraam, putting the horses un 
der the direction of the drivers. After three days' travel, 
the horses becoming more feeble, and the cold and snow 
hourly increasing, this mode of journeying proved so tardy 
and discouraging, that another was resorted to. Mr. Van 
braam took charge of the horses, with orders to go on as 
fast as he could. Major Washington, with a knapsack 
on his back, containing his papers and food, and with a 
gun in his hand, left the party, accompanied only by Mr. 
Gist, equipped in the same manner. They turned out of 
the path, and directed their course through the woods so 
as to strike the Allegany River, and cross it near Shan- 
nopins Town, two or three miles above the Fork of the 
Ohio. The next day an adventure occurred, which is 

the journey 
on foot. 


well narrated by Mr. Gist in a diary written by him at CHAPTER 
the time. 1L 

" We rose early in the morning, and set out about two 17 53. 

o'clock, and got to the Murdering Town on the southeast J in e<i by an 


fork of Beaver Creek. Here we met with an Indian. 

' designs are 

whom I thought I had seen at Joncaire's, at Venango, pected. 
when on our journey up to the French fort. This fel 
low called me by my Indian name, and pretended to be 
glad to see me. He asked us several questions, as, how 
we came to travel on foot, when we left Venango, where 
we parted with our horses, and when they would be there. 
Major Washington insisted on travelling by the nearest 
way to the Forks of the Allegany. We asked the Indian if 
he could go with us, and show us the nearest way. The 
Indian seemed very glad, and ready to go with us ; upon 
which we set out, and the Indian took the Major's pack. 
We travelled very brisk for eight or ten miles, when the 
Major's feet grew very sore, and he very weary, and the 
Indian steered too much northeastwardly. The Major de 
sired to encamp ; upon which the Indian asked to carry 
his gun, but he refused j and then the Indian grew churl 
ish, and pressed us to keep on, telling us there were 
Ottawa Indians in those woods, and they would scalp us, 
if we lay out j but go to his cabin, and we should be 

" I thought very ill of the fellow, but did not care to 
let the Major know I mistrusted him. But he soon mis 
trusted him as much as I did. The Indian said he could 
hear a gun from his cabin, and steered us more north 
wardly. We grew uneasy, and then he said two whoops 
might be heard from his cabin. We went two miles 
further. Then the Major said he would stay at the next 
water, and we desired the Indian to stop at the next 
water ; but, before we came to water, we came to a clear 
meadow. It was very light, and snow was on the ground. 
The Indian made a stop, and turned about. The Major 
saw him point his gun towards us, and he fired. Said 
the Major, ' Are you shot ? ' ' No,' said I ; upon which 


CHAPTER the Indian ran forward to a big standing white oak, and 
1L began loading his gun, but we were soon with him. I 
1753. would have killed him, but the Major would not suffer 
me. We let him charge his gun. We found he put in 
a ball ; then we took care of him. Either the Major or 
I always stood by the guns. We made him make a fire 
for us by a little run, as if we intended to sleep there. 
I said to the Major, ' As you will not have him killed, we 
must get him away, and then we must travel all night ; ' 
upon which I said to the Indian, ' I suppose you were 
lost, and fired your gun.' He said he knew the way to 
his cabin, and it was but a little way. ' Well/ said I, 
1 do you go home ; and, as we are tired, we will follow 
your track in the morning, and here is a cake of bread for 
you, and you must give us meat in the morning.' He 
was glad to get away. I followed him, and listened, 
until he was fairly out of the way ; and then we went 
about half a mile, when we made a fire, set our compass, 
fixed our course, and travelled all night. In the morn 
ing we were on the head of Piny Creek." 

Whether it was the intention of the Indian to kill 
either of them can only be conjectured. The circum 
stances were extremely suspicious. Major Washington 
hints at this incident in his Journal. " We fell in with 
a party of French Indians," says he, " who had lain in 
wait for us. One of them fired at Mr. Gist or me, not 
fifteen steps off, but fortunately missed. We took the fel 
low in custody, and kept him till nine o'clock at night ; 
then let him go, and walked all the remaining part of 
the night without making any stop, that we might get 
the start so far as to be out of the reach of their pur 
suit the next day, since we were well assured they would 
follow our track as soon as it was light." No more was 
thTIi? a L Seen or hearc * f them. The next night, at dusk, the 
River. travellers came to the Allegany River, a little above Shan- 
nopins, where they expected to cross over on the ice ; but 
in this they were disappointed, the river being frozen 
only a few yards on each side, and a great body of bro 
ken ice driving rapidly down the current. 

/Ex. 21.] * LIFE OF WASHINGlo . 31 

Weary and exhausted they were compelled to pass the CHAPTER 
night on the bank of the river, exposed to the rigor of IL 
the weather, making their beds on the snow, with no 1753. 
other covering than their blankets. When the morning 
came, their invention was the only resource for providing 
the means of gaining the opposite shore. 
. "There was no way of getting over," says Major Wash- 

ington, " but on a raft ; which we set about with but one river - 
poor hatchet, and finished just after sunsetting. This was 
a whole day's work. We next got it launched, and went 
on board of it ; then set off. But before we were half 
way over, we were jammed in the ice in such a manner, 
that we expected every moment our raft would sink, and 
ourselves perish. I put out my settingpole to try to stop 
the raft, that the ice might pass by ; when the rapidity 
of the stream threw it with so much violence against the 
pole, that it jerked me out into ten feet water. But I 
fortunately saved myself by catching hold of one of the 
raft logs. Notwithstanding all our efforts we could not 
get the raft to either shore, but were obliged, as we were 
near an island, to quit our raft, and make to it." 

This providential escape from most imminent danger, 
was not the end of their calamities. They were thrown 
upon a desert island ; the weather was intensely cold ; Mr. 
Gist's hands and feet were frozen; and their sufferings 
through the night were extreme. A gleam of hope ap 
peared with the dawn of morning. Between the island 
and the eastern bank of the river, the ice had congealed 
so hard as to bear their weight. They crossed over with- Reaches a 

J trading post. 

out accident, and the same day reached a trading post re 
cently established by Mr. Frazier, near the spot where 
eighteen months afterwards was fought the memorable 
battle of the Monongahela. 

Here they rested two or three days, both to recruit 
themselves and to procure horses. Meantime Major Wash- interview 

with Queen 

ington paid a complimentary visit to Queen Aliqmppa, an 
Indian princess, who resided at the confluence of the Mo- Dec - 31 
nongahela and Youghiogany Rivers. She had expressed 


. 21. 


Arrives at 


resolves to 
repel the 


to command 
the troops. 

dissatisfaction, that he had neglected this mark of respect 
on his way out. An apology, seconded by the more sub 
stantial token of a present, soothed her wounded dignity, 
and secured a gracious reception. 

Nothing was heard of Vanbraam and his party. Anxi 
ous to hasten back, and report to the governor the result 
of his mission, Major Washington did not wait for them. 
With Mr. Gist he recrossed the Alleganies to Will's Creek, 
and thence proceeded with despatch to Williamsburg, 
where he arrived on the 16th of January, having been 
absent eleven weeks. 

The intentions and movements of the French being now 
understood, Governor Dinwiddie thought the occasion de 
manded prompt and energetic action. He called his Coun 
cil together, and laid before them Major Washington's 
journal, and the letter of the French commandant. It 
was agreed, that the instructions heretofore received from 
the ministry imposed it as a duty, in case of an invasion 
of the King's dominions, to repel it by a resort to arms. 
There was no longer any doubt, that the state of things, 
anticipated by the ministers, had actually come to pass. 
It was now time to prepare for the exigency. At the 
last meeting of the House of Burgesses, the governor had 
failed in his endeavors to rouse the representatives of the 
people to a sense of danger, and no funds had been pro 
vided for establishing a military force. 

Without waiting for the burgesses to convene, the Coun 
cil advised the immediate enlistment of two hundred men, 
with directions to march to the Ohio, and build one or 
two forts there, before the French should be able to de 
scend the river in the spring, as they had threatened to 
do. An order was issued for raising two companies, of 
one hundred men each, in the northern counties by vol 
untary enlistments, or, if that method should prove im 
practicable, by drafts from the militia. The conduct of 
Major Washington had hitherto been marked with so much 
prudence, resolution, and capacity, that he was appointed 

JEr. 22.] L I F E O F W A S H I N G T O N. 33 

to the chief command of these troops, apparently by the CHAPTER 

unanimous voice of the Council. IL 

To make an impression on the minds of the people, 1754. 

and if possible to work them up to some degree of en- His journal 

. published. 

thusiasm, and excite their indignation against the invaders, 
Governor Dinwiddie caused Major Washington's journal to 
be published. It was copied into nearly all the newspa 
pers of the other colonies. In London it was reprinted, 
under the auspices of the government, and accounted a 
document of much importance, as unfolding the views of 
the French, and announcing the first positive proof of their 
hostile acts in the disputed territory. 

Nothing more was expected from the small military prep 
arations set on foot by the governor and Council, than to 
take a position on the Ohio before the French should 
come down the river, and unite with the parties from 
New Orleans. The command of one of the two compa 
nies was given to Captain Trent, who, being acquainted 
with the frontiers, was sent forward to enlist his men 
among the traders and back settlers, and ordered to com 
mence with all speed the building of a fort at the Fork 
of the Ohio, in conformity with the recommendation of 
Major Washington, who had examined that place, as we 
have seen, with a view to its military advantages. 

At the same time, Major Washington was stationed at stationed at 

, , , . . Alexandria. 

Alexandria, as a convenient situation for the rendezvous 

February . 

of his men, and for superintending the transportation of 
supplies and the cannon intended to be mounted in the 
fort. Lord Fairfax, holding the office of county-lieutenant, 
which gave him authority over the militia in his neigh 
borhood, was active in procuring enlistments and render 
ing other services to his young friend. The governor's 
instructions to the officers bore a warlike aspect. They 
were to drive away, kill, and destroy, or seize as pris 
oners, all persons not the subjects of the King of Great 
Britain, who should attempt to settle or take possession 
of the lands on the Ohio River or any of its tributaries. 
These arrangements being made, Governor Dinwiddie 



. 22. 


The gover 
nor endeav 
ors to rouse 
the other 

sent to the 

southern In 

divided as to 
the propriety 
of military 

summoned the legislature to meet at an early day, in or 
der to take into consideration the critical state of affairs, 
and provide for the safety of the Dominion, as Virginia 
was at that time denominated. He also wrote letters to 
the governors of the other provinces, calling on them for 
aid, and drawing a vivid picture of the common danger, 
with moving appeals to their patriotism and sense of duty 
to their sovereign. New York and the New England 
colonies he desired to send troops towards Canada, and 
make a feint in that direction, which should prevent the 
reinforcements at Quebec from marching to the Ohio. 

These appeals were of little avail ; the governors had 
received no instructions; funds for military objects were 
not at their disposal ; and the assemblies were slow to 
impose taxes even for the support of their own govern 
ments. Some persons doubted the authority of the gov 
ernor of Virginia to meddle in so grave a matter ; others 
were not convinced, that the French had encroached up 
on the King's lands ; and others regarded it as a national 
concern, in which the colonies had no right to interfere 
without direct orders and assistance from the King. If 
treaties have been violated, said they, it is not for us to 
avenge the insult, and precipitate a war by our zeal and 

In short, the call was premature, and there was little 
hope of cooperation frpm the other colonies. Messengers 
were despatched to the southern Indians, the Catawbas 
and Cherokees, inviting them to join in repelling a com 
mon enemy, who had already engaged in their behalf the 
powerful nations of Chippewas and Ottowas. Reliance 
was also placed on the friendship of the Twigtwees, Del- 
awares, and other tribes beyond the Ohio. 

When the assembly met, a difference of opinion pre 
vailed, as to the measures that ought to be pursued; but 
ten thousand pounds were finally voted for the defence 
of the colony, cloaked under the title of an act " for the 
encouragement and protection of the settlers on the Mis 
sissippi." The governor's equanimity was severely tried. 




The King's prerogative and his own dignity he thought CHAPTER 
were not treated with due respect. So obtuse were some ' 

of the burgesses, that they could not perceive the justice l754 - 
of the King's claims to the lands in question, and they 
had the boldness to let their doubts be known in a full 
assembly. "You may well conceive," said the governor 
in writing to a friend, " how I fired at this ; that an Eng 
lish legislature should presume to doubt the right of his 
Majesty to the interior parts of this continent, the back 
of his dominions." And, alluding to one of the members, 
he added, " How this French spirit could possess a person 
of his high distinction and sense, I know not." Another 
point was still more annoying to him. The Assembly 
appointed commissioners to superintend the appropriation 
of the funds. This act he took as a slight to himself, 
since by virtue of his office the disposal of money for 
public uses ought to rest exclusively with the governor. 
Such was his view of the matter, and he declared that 
nothing but the extreme urgency of the case should have 
induced him to sign the bill. 

To the Earl of Holdernesse he complained of the way- Governor's 
ward temper and strange doings of the Assembly. " I am 
sorry to find them," said he, " very much in a republican 
way of thinking ; and, indeed, they do not act in a pro 
per constitutional way, but make encroachments on the 
prerogative of the crown, in which some former governors 
have submitted too much to them ; and, I fear, without 
a very particular instruction, it will be difficult to bring 
them to order." Notwithstanding these grievances, the 
governor's zeal for the public good rose above his personal 
feelings, and he applied himself ardently to the work he 
had undertaken. 

March 12. 


. 22. 


Military Preparations. Washington appointed Lieutenant-Colonel. March 
es to the Allegany Mountains. Joined by Parties of Indians. Skirmish 
with a French Detachment under Jumonville. The Chief Command de 
volves on Colonel Washington. His generous Sentiments respecting the 
Terms of Service. Fort Necessity. Battle of the Great Meadows. 
Resigns his commission. Engages in the expedition under General Brad- 
dock. Difficulties encountered by the Army in its March. Battle of 
the Monongahela. Its disastrous Results. Bravery and good Conduct 
of Colonel Washington in that Action. His prudent Advice to General 

CHAPTER With the means now provided by the legislature, the 

E!i military establishment was increased to six companies, un- 

1754> der the command of Colonel Joshua Fry. He was an 
Military e- Englishman by birth, educated at Oxford, skilled in the 


lands grant 

mathematical sciences, and much esteemed for his amiable 
qualities and gentlemanly character. Major Washington 
was made second in command, with the rank of lieutenant- 
colonel. Subordinate officers were commissioned, and, to 
quicken the military zeal of the people, and give alacrity 
to the recruiting service, Governor Dinwiddie issued a proc 
lamation granting two hundred thousand acres of land on 
the Ohio River, to be divided among the troops, who 
should engage in the proposed expedition, and releasing 
the same from quitrents for fifteen years. One thousand 
acres were ordered to be laid oif, contiguous to the fort at 
the Fork of the Ohio, for the use of the soldiers doing 
duty there, to be called the garrison lands. 

The reasons assigned by the governor to the ministers 
for making this grant were, that he hoped the soldiers 
would become permanent settlers, and that it was better 
to secure the lands by such a bounty, than to allow the 
French to take quiet possession of as many millions of 
acres as he had granted thousands. His proclamation was 
sanctioned by the King, but it was not well received in 


another quarter. The Assembly of Pennsylvania took CHAPTER 
alarm at the freedom, with which lands, situate as they m< 
said in that province, were given away. Governor Ham- 1754. 
ilton wrote an expostulatory letter. It was a perplexing 
case j but Governor Dinwiddie escaped from the difficulty March 21. 
by replying, that the claims of Pennsylvania were at least 
doubtful, the boundary line not having been run, that the 
object in view equally concerned both provinces, that his 
grant did not necessarily imply future jurisdiction, and 
that, if the Pennsylvania claim should be established, the 
quitrents might eventually be paid to the proprietary in 
stead of the crown. 

Fresh encouragement was inspired by a letter from the independent 
Earl of Holdernesse, authorizing Governor Dinwiddie to call called to 


to his aid two independent companies from New York, 
and one from South Carolina. These were colonial troops, 
raised and supported at the King's charge, and command 
ed by officers with royal commissions. They could be 
marched to any part of the continent. None of these 
companies had ever been stationed in Virginia. Expresses 
were immediately despatched to the governors of the above 
colonies, requesting them to order forward the companies 
without delay. 

News came from North Carolina, also, that the Assem- North caro- 
bly had voted twelve thousand pounds for defence, and money and 
that a respectable force would soon be in the field to join for defence, 

J but the other 

their neighbors in the common cause. Thus far the pros- colonies are 


pect was flattering. The sympathy of the other colonies, 
however, did not manifest itself in any direct efforts. The 
Assembly of Maryland brought in a money bill, which 
was rejected by the governor, under pretence, that the 
mode proposed for levying the taxes was an encroachment 
upon the prerogative. Indeed, the apparition of the pre 
rogative never failed to stare the colonial governors in the 
face, whenever any measure salutary to the people was to 
be approved by them. It may be, that the bold experi 
ments and aspiring demands of the assemblies sometimes 
required this cautionary check. 


The spirit of liberty, even at that day, was restless 
under the burden of charters and usages, and was every- 
1754. where struggling to throw it off, or at least to diminish 
its weight. The prerogative was the potent charm, by 
which the governors endeavored to allay this spirit, when 
they found arguments and personal influence unavailing. 
Disputes In Pennsylvania, more exposed to the invasion than Vir- 

betweenthe , 

governor ginia, the legislature were so busy in carrying on the 
sXanuf 1111 " q uarre l> which continued for years between themselves and 
the governor, that they had little leisure for other busi 
ness. Here again -was a prerogative, but not enforced in 
the name of the King, and hence perhaps the more odi 
ous to the people. 

The descendants, of William Penn, called the proprieta 
ries, owned large tracts of land in the province. The 
Assembly insisted, and very justly, that these lands, being 
equally benefited, ought to bear an equal portion of the 
tax for defence. They reported money bills upon that 
principle ; the governor refused his signature, maintaining 
the proprietary prerogative. The bills fell to the ground, 
and nothing was done. In his letter of explanation, Gov 
ernor Hamilton regretted the failure of the bills, but laid 
the blame at the door of the Quakers, who, he said, had 
scruples about arming. 

march s to Although thus feebly sustained by their neighbors, the 
Virginians did not abate their exertions. The enlistments 
went on with considerable success. Colonel Washington 
continued his head-quarters at Alexandria till the begin 
ning of April. Two companies had been collected at that 
place, with which he marched to Will's Creek, where he 
arrived on the 20th, having been joined on the way by 
another company under Captain Stephen. The march was 
slow and fatiguing, on account of the roughness of the 
roads, and the difficulty of procuring wagons to convey 
the baggage. It was necessary to put the militia law in 
execution, which authorized impressments ; but measures of 
this sort are always disliked by the people, and orders are 
tardily obeyed or evaded. The artillery and some of the 
heavier articles went by water up the Potomac. 

AT. 22.] 



A party of Captain Trent's men had already gone to CHAPTER 
the Ohio, and begun to build a fort. Just before Colonel 
Washington reached Will's Creek, a rumor came from the 
interior, that these men were taken by the French j and 
two days afterwards the alarming intelligence was con- 
firmed by the ensign of Captain Trent's company. He 
reported, that, while they were at work, forty-one in num 
ber, a body of French troops descended the river from 
Venango, consisting of one thousand men, with eighteen 
pieces of cannon, sixty batteaux, and three hundred canoes, 
under the command of Captain Contrecoeur, and summon 
ed them to surrender, threatening to take forcible posses 
sion of the fort, if this summons were not immediately 
obeyed. No alternative remained, and, the captain and 
lieutenant being absent, Ensign Ward acceded to articles April n. 
of capitulation, and gave up the fort, but was permitted 
to retire with his men. He came to Will's Creek, and 
brought the news of the disaster. His statement, how 
ever, as to the numbers of the French, their cannon and 
boats, turned out to be very much exaggerated. This 
was the first open act of hostility in the memorable war 
of seven years that followed. The French enlarged and 
completed the fort, which they called Fort Duquesne, in 
compliment to the governor of Canada. 

To the little army under Colonel Washington, as yet 
amounting to no more than three small companies, this 
was a critical moment. They occupied an outpost, be- The army 

moves for- 

yond which there was no barrier to oppose the formidable ward into 

the wilder- 

French force on the Ohio. Even a detachment, well ness - 
armed and disciplined, might surround and cut them off. 
Colonel Fry had not joined them, and the whole respon- - 
sibility rested on the Lieutenant-Colonel. He instantly 
sent expresses to the governors of Virginia, Maryland, and 
Pennsylvania, setting forth his weak and exposed condi 
tion, and calling for reinforcements. He then held a 
council of war. Notwithstanding the dangers that threat 
ened on every side, it was resolved to push boldly into 
the wilderness, to clear and prepare the road as they ad- 


CHAPTER vanced, and, if possible, to penetrate to the Monongahela 
1IL at the mouth of Red-stone Creek, and erect there a forti- 
1 7 5 4 ' fication. The soldiers would thus be employed, their ap 
prehensions quieted, the bane of idleness avoided, and a 
way opened for the more expeditious march of the troops 
in the rear. 

Difficulties So many obstacles intervened, that the progress was 

march. slow. Trees were to be felled, bridges made, marshes fill 
ed up, and rocks removed. In the midst of these diffi 
culties the provisions failed, the commissaries having neg 
lected to fulfil their engagements, and there was great 
distress for want of bread. 

conveyance At the Youghiogany, where they were detained in con- 

bV \VttttT 

impractica- structing a bridge, Colonel Washington was told by the 
Ma 20 traders and Indians, that except at one place a passage 
might be had by water down that river. To ascertain 
this point, extremely advantageous if true, he embarked 
in a canoe with five men on a tour of discovery, leaving 
the army under the command of a subordinate officer. 
His hopes were disappointed. After navigating the river 
in his canoe near thirty miles, encountering rocks and 
shoals, he passed between two mountains, and came to a 
fall that arrested his course, and rendered any further at 
tempt impracticable. He returned, and the project of a 
conveyance by water was given up.* 

* In his journal, as published by the French government, Colonel 
Washington gives the following account of this tour of discovery. 

" On the 20th of May I embarked in a canoe, with Lieutenant West, 
three soldiers, and an Indian. Having followed the river for about half 
a mile we were obliged to go ashore, where we found a trader, who 
seemed to discourage my attempting to seek a passage by water, which 
caused me to change my intention of having canoes made. I ordered 
the troops to wade the river, as the waters had now sufficiently sub 
sided. I continued to descend the river, but, finding our canoe too 
small for six persons, we stopped to construct a bark, with which and 
the canoe we reached Turkey Foot just as the night began. Eight or 
ten miles further onward we encountered several difficulties, which were 
of little consequence. At this point we stopped some time to examine 
the position, and found it well suited for a fort, being at the mouth of 
three branches or small rivers, and having a gravelly foundation. 


He had scarcely rejoined the army, when a message CHAPTER 
was brought to him from his old friend Tanacharison, or 1!1 
the Half-King, then with his people near the Monongahela 1754. 

River, which warned him to be on his guard, as a party Message 

. r J from the In- 

of French had been out two days, and were then march- dians that a 

1 J party of 

ing towards him determined to attack the first English 

they should meet. His account was confirmed by another,- in s- 
which stated the French to be only fifteen miles distant. 
Not knowing their number, or at what moment they 


might approach, he hastened to a place called the Great 
Meadows, cleared away the bushes, threw up an entrench- May 25. 
ment, and prepared, as he expressed it, " a charming 
field for an encounter." He then mounted some of the 
soldiers on wagon-horses, and sent them out to reconnoitre. 
They came back without having seen any traces of the 
enemy ; but the camp was alarmed in the night, the sen- 

" We went down about two miles to examine the course of the river, 
which is straight, with many currents, and full of rocks and rapids. 
We crossed it, though the water was high, which induced me to be 
lieve the canoes would easily pass, but this was not effected without 
difficulty. Besides these rapids we met with others, but, the water 
being more shallow and the current smoother, we passed them easily. 
We then found the water very deep, and mountains rising on both 
sides. After proceeding about ten miles, we came to a fall in the river, 
which arrested our progress, and compelled us to go ashore and desist 
from any further attempt." Mimoire contenant le Pricis des Fails, &c. 
p. 121. 

The full title of the book, which is here quoted, is as follows ; 
" MEMOIRE contenant le Precis des Faits, avec leurs Pieces Justificatives, 
pour servir de Reponse aux OBSERVATIONS envoyees, par les Ministres 
d'Jlngleterre, dans les Cours de F Europe. A. Paris; de VImprimerie 
Roy ale. 1756." Four or five years had been consumed in unavailing 
attempts at a negotiation between England and France, with the osten 
sible design on both sides to effect a reconciliation of difficulties, but 
neither party in reality was solicitous to avoid a war. At length hos 
tilities were commenced in time of peace, and each nation charged the 
other with being the aggressor. Two French vessels on their way to 
Canada were taken by the British Admiral Boscawen, and, to justify 
this procedure, the " Observations " above mentioned were published, in 
which the position was maintained, that the French had actually begun 
the war, by their encroachments with a military force on the Ohio fron 
tiers. To repel this charge, the French government circulated among 


[^Er. 22. 



CHAPTER tries fired, and all hands were kept under arms till morn- 
_51 _ ing. Mr. Gist came to the camp, also, and reported that 
a French detachment, consisting of fifty men, had been 
at his settlement the day before, and that he had observ 
ed their tracks within five miles of the Great Meadows. 
The approach of the French, with hostile designs, was 
now deemed certain ; and the best preparation was made 
to receive them, which circumstances would permit. In 
the mean time, about nine o'clock at night, another ex 
press came from the Half-King, who was then with a 
party of his warriors about six miles from the camp, stating 
that he had seen the. tracks of two Frenchmen, and that 
the whole detachment was near that place. Colonel Wash- 
ington immediately put himself at the head of forty men, 
leaving the rest to guard the camp, and set off to join the 
Half-King. The night was dark, the rain fell in torrents, 
the paths through the woods were narrow and intricate, 
and the -soldiers often lost their way, groping in the 
bushes, and clambering over rocks and fallen trees. 

the courts of Europe the Memoire, whose title is here given, the object 
of which was to prove, that the British had been the first to transgress. 

This Mimoire is curious, as containing many official and other docu 
ments relating to the question at issue, which are nowhere else to be 
found, and particularly selections from the manuscripts of General Brad- 
dock and of Washington, which the French had captured at the disas 
trous battle of the Monongahela. Among other things are Braddock's 
instructions, several of his letters to the ministry, and extracts purport 
ing to be from a journal kept by Washington during his preceding 
campaign. With what fidelity these were published cannot now be 
known, but as it was the object of the J)lemoire to prove a contested 
point, it may be presumed, that such parts of the papers only were 
brought forward, as would make for that end. Coming out as they did, 
however, under the name and sanction of the government, there can 
be no room for doubt, that the official papers at least were given with 

These papers were originally published by the French government 
in a duodecimo volume. A copy was soon afterwards found in a French 
prize, that was brought to New York. It was there translated into 
English, and printed the year after its appearance in Paris. The trans 
lation was hastily executed, and is worthy of little credit, being equally 
uncouth in its style, and faulty in its attempts to convey the sense of 
the original. 


The whole night was passed in the march, and they CHAPTER 
got to the Indian encampment just before sunrise. A 
council was held with Tanacharison and his chief war 
riors, and it was agreed that they should march in con 
cert against the French. Two Indians went out to 
ascertain the position of the enemy, which was discovered 
to be in an obscure retreat, surrounded by rocks, half a 
mile from the road. The plan of the attack was then 
formed. Colonel Washington and his men were to ad 
vance on the right, and the Indians on the left. The 
march was pursued in single file, according to the Indian 
manner, till they came so near as to be discovered by 
the French, who instantly seized their arms, and put 
themselves in an attitude of defence. 

At this moment the firing commenced on both sides, skirmish 

with the 

A smart skirmish ensued, which was kept up for a quar- French, 
ter of an hour, when the French ceased to resist. M. jjjjj n j{ lle 
de Jumonville, the commander of the French party, and 
ten of his men, were killed. Twenty-two were taken 
prisoners, one of whom was wounded. A Canadian made 
his escape during the action. One of Colonel Washing 
ton's men was killed, and two or three wounded. No 
harm happened to the Indians, as the enemy's fire was 
directed chiefly against the English. This event occurred 
on the 28th of May. The prisoners were conducted to 
the Great Meadows, and thence under a guard to Gov 
ernor Dinwiddie. 

No transaction in the life of Washington has been so Errors of 

the French - 

much misrepresented, or so little understood, as this skir- writers <*- 
mish with Jumonville. It being the first conflict of arms 
in the war, a notoriety was given to it, particularly in Eu 
rope, altogether disproportioned to its importance. War had 
not yet been declared between Great Britain and France, 
and indeed the diplomatists on both sides were making 
great professions of friendship. It was the policy of each 
nation to exaggerate the proceedings of the other on their 
colonial frontiers, and to make them a handle for recrimi 
nation and complaints, by throwing upon the adverse party 


CHAPTER the blame of committing the first acts of aggression. 
Hence when the intelligence of the skirmish with Ju- 
1754. monville got to Paris, it was officially published by the 
government, in connexion with a memoir and various pa 
pers, and his death was called a murder. It was said, 
that, while bearing a summons as a civil messenger with 
out any hostile intentions, he was waylaid and assassin 
ated. The report was industriously circulated, and gained 
credence with the multitude. M. Thomas, a poet and 
scholar of repute, seized the occasion to write an epic, en 
titled " Jumonville," in which he tasked his invention to 
draw a tragical picture of the fate of his hero. The fab 
ric of the story and the incidents were alike fictitious. 
But the tale passed from fiction to history, and to this day 
it is repeated by the French historians, who in other re 
spects render justice to the character of Washington, and 
who can find no other apology for this act, than his youth 
and inexperience, and the ferocity of his men. 

The mistakes of the French writers were not unknown 
to Washington; but, conscious of having acted in strict 
conformity with his orders and military usage, he took no 
pains to correct them, except in a single letter to a friend, 
written several years afterwards, which related mostly to 
the errors in the French account of the subsequent action 
of the Great Meadows. Unfortunately all his correspon 
dence, and the other papers which he wrote during this 
campaign, were lost the next year at the battle of the 
Monongahela; and he was thus deprived of the only au 
thentic materials, that could be used for explanation and 
defence. The most important of these papers have recently 
been found, and they afford not only a complete vindica 
tion of the conduct of Colonel Washington in this affair, 
but show that it met with the unqualified approbation of 
the governor and legislature of Virginia, and of the Brit 
ish ministry.* 

* In the public offices at London, I examined the official communi 
cations from Governor Dinwiddie, giving a full account of the events 


It is true that Jumonville was the bearer of a summons ; 
but this was unknown to Colonel Washington, nor did the 
mode in which the former approached the English camp 1754. 
indicate that he came on an errand of peace. He was at 


the head of an armed force, he sent out spies in advance, 
concealed himself and his party two days in an obscure tion - 
place near the camp, and despatched messengers with intel 
ligence to his commander at the fort. These were strong 
evidences of a hostile intention ; and, had Colonel Wash 
ington not regarded them in that light, he would have 
been justly censurable for ignorance or neglect of duty. 

The summons itself was by no means conciliatory, The sum- 

J '' mons not 

and if Colonel Washington had actually known, that the conciliatory. 
French officer had such a paper in his pocket, he could 
not properly do otherwise than he did, under the circum 
stances in which M. de Jumonville chose to place himself. 
It warned the English to retire below the Alleganies, and 
threatened compulsory measures if it should not be obeyed. 
The presumption was, that the summons was only a feint, 
in case the party should be captured, and that Jumonville 
was to remain concealed, and wait for reinforcements, af 
ter he had reconnoitred the English camp, and ascertained 
its strength. If such were not the object, the conse 
quences are justly chargeable on the indiscretion of M. de 
Jumonville in the extraordinary mode of .conducting his 

of that period. By the politeness of an individual in England, who had 
in his possession the letter books and private papers of Governor Din- 
widdie, I was permitted to inspect those papers, and to have copies 
taken. Among them were the original letters of Colonel Washington, 
written at the time, respecting the skirmish with Jumonville, and the 
principal incidents of the campaign. 

* In Horace Walpole's Memoirs of George the Second is the following 
passage. "In the express which Major Washington despatched on his 
preceding little victory, (the skirmish with Jumonville,) he concluded 
with these words, * I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me, there 
is something charming in the sound.' On hearing of this the King 
said sensibly, * He would not say so, if he had been used to hear 
many.' However, this brave braggart learned to blush for his rhodo- 
montade, and, desiring to serve General Braddock as aid-de-camp, 



. 22. 



of the offi 
cers, and 
ton's re 
marks on 

to calm 
their feel 

The labors and dangers of the field were not the only 
troubles, with which Colonel Washington at this time had 
to contend. By an ill timed parsimony, the pay of the 
officers was reduced so low, as to create murmurs and 
discontent throughout the camp. Complaints grew loud 
and vehement, accompanied with threats to resign and 
leave the army to its fate. Under this pressure the char 
acter of Washington shone with the same purity and lus 
tre, that often distinguished it afterwards on similar trying 
occasions. In his letters to the governor he assumed a 
firm and manly tone, demanded for himself and his asso 
ciates an allowance equal to that received by the King's 
troops, and deprecated the idea of being placed upon a 
footing, which should imply an inferiority in rank, or in 
the value of their services. 

While he took this high stand, in defending the just 
claims of the officers, he endeavored to calm their feel 
ings, and reconcile them to their condition, by appeals to 
their honor and the obligations of duty. " I have com 
municated your sentiments to the other officers," said he 

acquitted himself nobly." Vol. I. p. 347. The original despatch com 
municated by Major Washington to Governor Dinwiddie, narrating the 
particulars of the rencounter with Jumonville, contains nothing about 
the "whistling of bullets." See Washington's Writings, Vol. II. p. 32. 
Nor is this sentiment uttered in any of his letters, that have been pre 
served. Yet this anecdote would seem not to be wholly without foun 
dation, if we may rely on a statement of Gordon, in which he says ; 
"A gentleman, who had heard the Reverend Mr. Davies relate, that 
Colonel Washington had mentioned, he knew of no music so pleasing 
as the whistling of bullets, being alone in conversation with him at 
Cambridge, asked him whether it was as he had related. The General 
answered, ' If I said so, it was when I was young.' " Gordon's History, 
Vol. II. p. 203. 

The Memoirs of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, quoted above, are 
understood to have been written near the time of the events, but they 
were not published till after his death. The Editor remarks, in a note 
on the word Iraggart, " It is wonderful, that Lord Orford should have 
allowed this expression to remain, after he had lived to witness and 
admire the subsequent career of that great man General Washington." 
It may be added, that it was not by his own desire, but at the solicitation 
of General Braddock, that Washington joined him as aid-de-camp. 

/Ex. 22.] 



to the governor, "and, as far as I could put on the hy- CHAPTER 
pocrite, set forth the advantages that may accrue, and ad- IIL 
vised them to accept the terms, as a refusal might reflect 1754. 
dishonor upon their character, leaving it to the world to 
assign what reason it pleases for their quitting the ser 
vice." And again; "I considered the pernicious conse 
quences that would attend a disunion, and was therefore 
too much attached to my country's interests to suffer it 
to ripen." In this way he concealed his uneasiness, and 
tranquillized the minds of his officers, although he felt 
the wrongs they suffered, and approved the spirit that 
would not tamely submit to them. 

As to himself, it was not so much the smallness of the 
pay, that gave him concern, as the indignity and injustice 
of having his services estimated at a lower rate, than in 
the British establishment, when in reality no service could 
be more severe and hazardous, or less promising of glory, 
than the one in which he was engaged. "Now if we 
could be fortunate enough," said he, "to drive the French 
from the Ohio, as far as your Honor would please to have 
them sent, in any short time, our pay will not be suffi 
cient to discharge our first expenses. I would not have 
you imagine from this, that I have said all these things 
to have our pay increased, but to justify myself, and to 
show you that our complaints are not frivolous, but found 
ed on strict reason. For my own part, it is a matter 
almost indifferent, whether I serve for full pay, or as a 
generous volunteer. Indeed, did my circumstances cor 
respond with my inclinations, I should not hesitate a mo 
ment to prefer the latter; for the motives that have led 
me here are pure and noble. I had no view of acquisi 
tion, but that of honor, by serving my King and country." 
In this declaration, uttered in the sincerity of his heart, 
we perceive the principles, the eminent virtues, that dic 
tated every act of his public life. 

Colonel Fry having died suddenly at Will's Creek, Appointed 

., . ... Colonel of 

while on his way to join the army, the chief command the Virginia 
devolved on Colonel Washington. Recruits were brought 


CHAPTER forward by Major Muse. The North Carolina troops, to 

. the number of about three hundred and fifty, led by Col- 

1754. one i i nneS) arrived at Winchester. The governor was 
then in that town, holding a council with Indians, and he 
appointed Innes commander of the expedition, but con 
firmed Colonel Washington's command of the Virginia 

The appointment of Innes was an unpopular measure 
in Yirginia, as he was from another colony ; and the gov 
ernor was accused of partiality for an old friend and coun 
tryman, both he and Innes being Scotchmen by birth. 
No ill consequences ensued. Neither Colonel Innes nor 
his troops advanced beyond Winchester. To promote en 
listments the men were extravagantly paid ; and, when 
the money raised by the Assembly of North Carolina for 
their support was expended, they dispersed of their own 
accord. An Independent Company from South Carolina, 

captain consisting of one hundred men under Captain Mackay, 
arrived at the Great Meadows. Two companies from New 
York landed at Alexandria, and marched to the interior, 
but not in time to overtake or succor the army in 

Detachment It was foreseen by Colonel Washington, that, when the 

oftheFrerch J 

expected. French at Fort Duquesne should get the news of Ju- 
monville's defeat, a strong detachment would be sent 
out against him. As a preparation for this event, he set 
all his men at work to enlarge the entrenchment at the 
Great Meadows, and erect palisades. To the structure thus 
hastily thrown up he gave the name -of Fort Necessity. 

^ he Indians, who leaned to the English interest, fled 
before the French and flocked to the camp, bringing 
along their wives and children, and putting them under 
his- protection. Among them came Tanacharison and his 
people, Queen Aliquippa and her son, and other persons 
of distinction, till between forty and fifty families gath 
ered around him, and laid his magazine of supplies under 
a heavy contribution. It may be said, once for all, that 
the burden of supporting these sons of the forest during 


this campaign, and the perplexities of managing them, CHAPTER 
were by no means counterbalanced by any advantage de- IIL 
rived from * their aid. As spies and scouts they were of 1754. 
some service ; in the field they did nothing. 

The forces at the Great Meadows, including Captain Difficulties 
Mackay's company, had now increased to about four him- 
dred men. But a new difficulty arose, which threatened 
disagreeable consequences. Captain Mackay had a royal 
commission, which in his opinion put him above the au 
thority of Colonel Washington, who was a colonial officer, 
commissioned by the governor of Virginia. He was a man 
of mild and gentlemanly manners, and no personal differ 
ences interrupted the harmony between them ; but still he 
declined receiving the orders of the colonel, and his com 
pany occupied a separate encampment. At this crisis, 
when an attack was daily expected, and when a perfect 
union of design and action was essential, such a state of 
things was so unpropitious, that Colonel Washington wrote 
earnestly to the governor to settle the controversy by a 
positive order under his own hand. The governor hesi 
tated, because he was not sure, that Captain Mackay's 
pretensions were inconsistent with the rule adopted by 
the ministry, namely, that all officers with King's com 
missions should take rank of those commissioned in the 

To avoid altercation, and prevent the contagious example Army ad- 
of disobedience from infecting the troops, Colonel Wash- 


ington resolved to advance with a large part of his army, 
and, if not obstructed by the enemy, to go on by the 
shortest route to the Monongahela River. Captain Mac 
kay's company was left at Fort Necessity, as a guard to 
that post. The road was to be cleared and levelled for 
artillery carriages; and the process was so laborious, that 
it took two weeks to effect a passage through the gorge 
of the mountains to Gist's settlement, a distance of only 
thirteen miles. The Indians were troublesome with their 
speeches, councils, and importunities for presents, particu 
larly a party from the interior, who feigned friendship, but 
7 p 


CHAPTER who were discovered to be spies from the French. Due 

IIL vigilance was practised, and scouts were kept abroad, even 

1754. as far as the neighborhood of Fort Duquesne, so that the 

first motions of the enemy might be detected. 

A council of It was at length told by French deserters and Indians, 

*" tnat Fort Duquesne was reinforced by troops from Canada, 


and that a strong detachment would shortly march against 
the English. A council of war being called, it was at 
first thought best to make a stand, and wait the approach 
of the enemy at Gist's plantation. An intrenchment for 
defence was begun, Captain Mackay was requested to come 
forward with his company, and the scouting parties were 
ordered to return to the camp. Captain Mackay promptly 
joined the advanced division j and another council decid 
ed, that the enemy's force was so large, as to leave no 
reasonable hope of a successful resistance, and that a re 
treat was necessary. 
Army re- i n the face of many obstacles this determination was 

treats to the J 

Great Mead- executed. The horses were few and weak, and a severe 
service was imposed on the men, who were obliged to 
bear heavy burdens, and drag nine swivels over a broken 
road. Colonel Washington set a worthy example to his 
officers, by lading his horse with public stores, going on 
foot, and paying the soldiers a reward for carrying his 
baggage. In two days they all got back to the Great 
Meadows. It was not the intention at first to halt at 
this place, but the men had become so much fatigued 
from great labor, and a deficiency of provisions, that 
they could draw the swivels no further, nor carry the 
baggage on their backs. They had .been eight days 
without bread, and at the Great Meadows they found 
only a few bags of flour. It was thought advisable to 
wait here, therefore, and fortify themselves in the best 
manner they could, till they should receive supplies and 
reinforcements. They had heard of the arrival at Alex 
andria of two Independent Companies from New York 
twenty days before, and it was presumed they must by 
this time have reached Will's Creek. An express was 


sent to hasten them on, with as much despatch as pos- CHAPTER 
sible. IIL 

Meantime Colonel Washington set his men to felling 1754. 
trees, and carrying logs to the fort, with a view to raise FortNeces- 
a breastwork, and enlarge and strengthen the fortification 
in the best manner, that circumstances would permit. 
The space of ground, called the Great Meadows, is a level 
bottom, through which passes a small creek, and is sur 
rounded by hills of a moderate and gradual ascent. This 
bottom, or glade, is entirely level, covered with long grass 
and small bushes, and varies in width. At the point 
where the fort stood, it is about two hundred and fifty 
yards wide, from the base of one hill to that of the op 
posite. The position of the fort was well chosen, being 
about one hundred yards from the upland, or wooded 
ground, on the one side, and one hundred and fifty on 
the other, and so situated on the margin of the creek, 
as to afford an easy access to water. At one point the 
high ground comes within sixty yards of the fort, and 
this was the nearest distance to which an enemy could 
approach under the shelter of trees. The outlines of the 
fort were still visible, when the spot was visited by the 
writer in 1830, occupying an irregular square, the dimen 
sions of which were about one hundred feet on each side. 
One of the angles was prolonged further than the others, 
for the purpose of reaching the water in the creek. On 
the west side, next to the nearest wood, were three en 
trances, protected by short breastworks, or bastions. The 
remains of a ditch, stretching round the south and west 
sides, were also distinctly seen. The site of this fort, 
named Fort Necessity from the circumstances attending 
its erection and original use, is three or four hundred yards 
south of what is now called the National Road, four miles 
from the foot of Laurel Hill, and fifty miles from Cum 
berland at Will's Creek. 

On the 3d of July early in the morning an alarm was Battle of th 

Great Mead- 

received from a sentinel, who had been wounded by the ws. 
enemy ; and at nine o'clock intelligence came, that the July 3 * 



[-fix. 22. 

CHAPTER whole body of the enemy, amounting, as was reported, 
IIL to nine hundred men, was only four miles off. At eleven 


Proposal to 

o'clock they approached the fort, and began to fire, at 
the distance of six hundred yards, but without effect. 
Colonel Washington had drawn up his men on the open 
and level ground outside of the trenches, waiting for the 
attack, which he presumed would be made as soon as the 
enemy's forces emerged from the woods ; and he ordered 
his men to reserve their fire, till they should be near 
enough to do execution. The distant firing was suppos 
ed to be a stratagem to draw Washington's men into the 
woods, and thus to take them at a disadvantage. He 
suspected the design, and maintained his post till he found 
the French did not incline to leave the woods, and attack 
the fort by an assault, as he supposed they would, con 
sidering their superiority of numbers. He then drew his 
men back within the trenches, and gave them orders to 
fire according to their discretion, as suitable opportunities 
might present themselves. The French and Indians re 
mained on the side of the rising ground, which was near 
est to the fort, and, sheltered by the trees, kept up a 
brisk fire of musketry, but never appeared in the open 
plain below. The rain fell heavily through the day, the 
trenches were filled with water, and many of the arms 
of Colonel Washington's men were out of order, and used 
with difficulty. 

In this way the battle continued from eleven o'clock 
in the morning till eight at night, when the French call 
ed and requested a parley. Suspecting this to be a feint 
to procure the admission of an officer into the fort, that 
he might discover their condition, Colonel Washington at 
first declined listening to the proposal, but when the call 
was repeated, with the additional request that an officer 
might be sent to them, engaging at the same time their 
parole for his safety, he sent out Captain Vanbraam, the 
only person under his command, that could speak French, 
except the Chevalier de Peyrouny, an ensign in the Vir 
ginia regiment, who was dangerously wounded, and dis- 


abled from rendering any service on this occasion. Van- CHAPTER 
braam returned, and brought with him from M. de Vil- nl> 
liers, the French commander, proposed articles of capit- 1754 - 
ulation. These he read and pretended to interpret, and 
some changes having been made by mutual agreement, 
both parties signed them about midnight. 

By the terms of the capitulation, the whole garrison Terms of 

' . capitulation. 

was to retire, and return without molestation to the in- July4> 
habited parts of the country; and the French commander 
promised, that no embarrassment should be interposed, ei 
ther by his own men or the savages. The English were 
to take away every thing in their possession, except their 
artillery, and to march out of the fort the next morning 
with the honors of war, their drums beating and. colors 
flying. As the French had killed all the horses and cat 
tle, Colonel Washington had no means of transporting his 
heavy baggage and stores ; and it was conceded to him, 
that his men might conceal their effects, and that a guard 
might be left to protect them, till horses could be sent 
up to take them away. Colonel Washington agreed to re 
store the prisoners, who had been taken at the skirmish 
with Jumonville ; and, as a surety for this article, two 
hostages, Captain Vanbraam and Captain Stobo, were de 
livered up to the French, and were to be retained till 
the prisoners should return. It was moreover agreed, that 
the party capitulating should not attempt to build any 
more establishments at that place, or beyond the moun 
tains, for the space of a year. 

Early the next morning Colonel Washington began to 
inarch from the fort in good order, but he had proceeded < ?re< * 
only a short distance, when a body of one hundred In 
dians, being a reinforcement to the French, came upon 
him, and could hardly be restrained from attacking his 
men. They pilfered the baggage and did other mischief. 
He marched forward, however, with as much speed as 
possible, in the weakened and encumbered condition of his 
army, there being no other mode of conveying the wound 
ed men and the baggage, than on the soldiers' backs. 




CHAPTER As the provisions were nearly exhausted, no time was to 

be lost; and, leaving much of the baggage behind, he 

>4 ' hastened to Will's Creek, where all the necessary sup 
plies were in store. Thence Colonel Washington and 
Captain Mackay proceeded to Williamsburg, and commu 
nicated in person to Governor Dinwiddie the events of 
the campaign. 

Number of The exact number of men engaged in the action can- 
men engaged 

in the battle. no t fa ascertained. According to a return made out by 
Colonel Washington himself, the Virginia regiment con 
sisted of three hundred and five, including officers, of 
whom twelve were killed and forty-three wounded. Cap 
tain Mackay 's company was supposed to contain about 
one hundred, but the number of killed and wounded is 
not known. The Independent Companies from Ne\v York 
did not reach the army before the action. 

vote of The conduct of the commander and of the troops was 

thanks by 

highly approved by the governor and Council, and received 
merited applause from the public. As soon as the House 
of Burgesses assembled, they passed a vote of thanks to 
Colonel Washington and his officers " for their bravery and 
gallant defence of their country." A pistole was granted 
from the public treasury to each of the soldiers. * 

* It was fortunate that the disagreement between Colonel Washing 
ton and Captain Mackay, respecting the right of command, did not 
produce any personal ill feeling, nor interfere with their public duty. 
It is also pleasing to observe, that their friendship continued through 
life, although they never again saw each other. Thirty-eight years 
after the battle of the Great Meadows, that is, in 1792, a gentleman 
in Scotland wrote to Washington, making inquiries about Captain Mac 
kay. Washington replied ; " In 1755, he left the service, sold out, and 
went to Georgia. I heard nothing of him from that time till about five 
or six years ago, when he went by water from Georgia to Rhode Is 
land on account of his health. On his return to Georgia by land, he 
was seized either by the complaint for which he had gone to Rhode 
Island, or by some other disorder, and died at Alexandria; not at my 
house, as your letter mentions. I was not informed of his being at 
Alexandria until after his death, which was a circumstance that I re 
gretted much, not only on account of the regard which 1 had for him, 
from our former acquaintance, but because I understood that he was 


Thus commenced the military career of Washington, CHAPTER 

and thus ended his first campaign. Although as yet a 

youth, with small experience, unskilled in war, and rely- 1754 - 
ing on his own resources, he had behaved with the 
prudence, address, courage, and firmness of a veteran com 
mander. Rigid in discipline, but sharing the hardships 
and solicitous for the welfare of his soldiers, he had 
secured their obedience and won their esteem amidst 
privations, sufferings, and perils, that have seldom been 

Notwithstanding the late discomfiture, Governor Dinwid- Governor 
die's ardor did not abate. It was indeed a foible with prosecute 

tUC WftT. 

him, that his zeal outstripped his knowledge and discre 
tion. Wholly ignorant of military affairs, he undertook to 
organize the army, prescribe rules, issue orders, form plans 
of operation, and manage the details. Hence frequent 
blunders and confusion. Colonel Washington rejoined his 
regiment, which had marched by way of Winchester to 
Alexandria. He there received orders to fill up the com- August, 
panics by enlistments, and lead them without delay to 
Will's Creek, where Colonel Innes was employed in build 
ing Fort Cumberland, with the remnant of the North 
Carolina troops, and the three independent companies, that 
had come to Virginia from South Carolina and New York. 
It was the governor's project, that the united forces should 
immediately cross the Alleganies, and drive the French 
from Fort Duquesne, or build another fort beyond the 

Astonished that such a scheme should be contemplated, Disapproves 
at a season of the year when the mountains would be nor'f me^. 
rendered impassable by the snows and rigor of the cli 
mate, and with an army destitute of supplies, feeble in 

then on his way to pay rile a visit, and had expressed an anxious de 
sire to see me before he died. I do not know whether Captain Mac- 
kay left any family or not; for, from the time of his quitting the service 
until his death, as I observed before, I knew nothing of him. I have, 
however, been informed, that he was possessed of a handsome prop 
erty in Georgia." 



. B2. 

plans oppos 
ed by the 

CHAPTER numbers, and worn down by fatigue, Colonel Washington 
IIL wrote a letter of strong remonstrance to a member of the 
1754. governor's Council, representing the absurdity and even 
impossibility of such an enterprise. His regiment was re 
duced by death, wounds, and sickness. He was ordered 
to obtain recruits, but not a farthing of money had been 
provided. He was ordered to march, but his men had 
neither arms, tents, ammunition, clothing, nor provisions, 
sufficient to enable them to take the field, and no means 
existed for procuring them. It is enough to say, that the 
scheme was abandoned. 

The governor was destined to struggle with difficulties, 
and to have his hopes defeated. The Assembly were so 
perverse, as not to yield to all his demands, and he never 
ceased to complain of their " republican way of thinking," 
and to deplore their want of respect for the authority of 
his office and the prerogative of the crown. He had 
lately prorogued them, as a punishment for their obstina 
cy, and written to the ministry, that the representatives 
of the people seemed to him infatuated, and that he was 
satisfied " the progress of the French would never be ef 
fectually opposed, but by means of an act of Parliament 
to compel the colonies to contribute to the common cause 
independently of assemblies." When the burgesses came 
together again, however, he was consoled by their good 
nature in granting twenty thousand pounds for the public 
service ; and he soon received ten thousand pounds in spe 
cie from the government in England for the same object. 

Thus encouraged he formed new plans, and as the gift 
of ten thousand pounds was under his control, he could 
appropriate it as he pleased. He enlarged the army to ten 
companies, of one hundred men each, and put the. whole 
upon the establishment of independent companies, by which 
the highest officers in the Virginia regiment would be cap 
tains, and even these inferior to officers of the same rank 
holding King's commissions. The effect was to reduce 
Colonel Washington to the rank of captain, and put him 
under officers whom he had commanded. Such a degra- 

Army en 


dation, of course, was not to be submitted to by a high- CHAPTER 
minded man. He resigned his commission, and retired in * 
from the army. 1754. 

Governor Sharpe, of Maryland, soon after received an 
appointment from the King as commander-in-chief of the 
forces employed to act against the French. Knowing 
Colonel Washington's character, and the importance of 
his aid, Governor Sharpe solicited him, by a letter from 
himself and another from one of his officers, to resume 
his station. It was intimated, that he might hold his 
former commission. " This idea," said Washington in re 
ply, " has filled me with surprise ; for, if you think me NOV. is. 
capable of holding a commission, that has neither rank 
nor emolument annexed to it, you must entertain a very 
contemptible opinion of my weakness, and believe me to 
be more empty than the commission itself." He promptly 
declined the invitation, and added ; "I shall have the 
consolation of knowing, that I have opened the way, when 
the smallness of our numbers exposed us to the attacks of 
a superior enemy ; and that I have had the thanks of my 
country for the services I have rendered." 

Thus sustained within himself, neither seeking redress 
nor venting complaints, he passed the winter in retirement. 
He acknowledged his partiality, however, for the profes 
sion of arms, and his ambition to acquire experience and 
skill in the military art. Nor did he wait long for an op 
portunity to gratify his wishes. 

Early in the spring, General Braddock landed in Vir- Accepts the 

c " appointment 

ginia, with two regiments of regular troops from Great J^mp'tlt 
Britain, which it was supposed would bear down all op- g^ock. 
position, and drive back the intruding French to Canada. March 16. 
The people were elated with joy, and already the war 
on the frontier seemed hastening to an end. Colonel 
Washington acceded to a request from General Braddock 
to take part in the campaign as one of his military fam 
ily, in which he would retain his former rank, and the 
objections on that score would be obviated. 



. 23. 



His reasons 
for rejoining 
the array. 

and several 
meet at 

April 13. 

inarches to 
ihe interior. 

April 20. 

His views on the subject were explained, with a be 
coming frankness and elevation of mind, in a letter to a 
friend. " I may be allowed," said he, "to claim some 
merit, if it is considered that the sole motive, which in 
vites me to the field, is the laudable desire of serving my 
country, not the gratification of any ambitious or lucrative 
plans. This, I flatter myself, will manifestly appear by 
my going as a volunteer without expectation of reward or 
prospect of obtaining a command, as I am confidently as 
sured it is not in General Braddock's power to give me a 
commission that I would accept." Again, " If there is any 
merit in my case, I am unwilling to hazard it among my 
friends, without this exposition of facts, as they might con 
ceive that some advantageous offers had engaged my ser 
vices, when, in reality, it is otherwise, for I expect to be 
a considerable loser in my private affairs by going. It is 
true I have been importuned to make this campaign by 
General Braddock, as a member of his family, he conceiv 
ing, I suppose, that the small knowledge I have had an 
opportunity of acquiring of the country and the Indians is 
worthy of his notice, and may be useful to him in the 
progress of the expedition." Influenced by these honor 
able and generous motives, he accepted the offer, and pre 
pared to engage in the service as a volunteer. 

Several companies of Braddock's two regiments were 
cantoned at Alexandria, at which place the commander 
himself met the governors of five colonies, in order to 
concert a general scheme of military operations. Colonel 
Washington was introduced to these gentlemen; and the 
manner in which he was received by them gave a flatter 
ing testimony of the consideration, which his name and 
character had already inspired. With the deportment and 
civilities of Governor Shirley he was particularly pleased. 

General Braddock marched to the interior, and was 
overtaken by Colonel Washington at Winchester, when the 
latter assumed the station and duties of aid-de-camp. The 
troops followed in divisions by different routes, and all as 
sembled at Will's Creek. Here the general was disap- 


pointed, vexed, and thrown into paroxysms of ill humor, CHAPTER 
at not finding in readiness the horses and wagons, which IIL 
had been promised, and on which he depended for trans- 1755. 
porting the baggage, tents, provisions, and artillery beyond 
that post. The contractors had proved faithless, either 
from neglect or inability. 

The embarrassment was at last removed by the patriotic Patriotic 

zeal and ac- 

zeal and activity of Franklin. Being postmaster-general of 
the provinces, he visited the commander during his march, 
with the view of devising some plan to facilitate the trans 
mission of the mail to and from the army. On certain 
conditions he agreed to procure one hundred and fifty 
wagons, and the requisite number of horses. By prompt 
exertions, and by his influence among the farmers of Penn 
sylvania, he obtained them all and sent them to Will's 
Creek. This act was praised by General Bracjdock in a 
letter to the ministry : but he passed a severe censure up 
on the authorities of the country by adding, " that it was 
the only instance of address and integrity, which he had 
seen in the provinces." It is true, that by this timely 
aid alone his army was enabled to move. General Brad- 
dock had good grounds of complaint, if we may judge 
from some of his letters afterwards published. The con 
tractors deceived and disappointed him in nearly every 
instance, a,nd paralyzed his most strenuous efforts to pro 
ceed with the army. This, to be sure, was not the fault 
of the country, but it would seem to have been the duty 
of the adjoining colonies to take care, that supplies were 
promptly forwarded through some channel or other, and 
not to leave the expedition at the mercy of faithless and 
peculating contractors. It is evident, that the sense of 
the people was but little wakened to the necessity, or im 
portance, of these enterprises against the French, and that 
they looked upon them rather as the results of political 
objects in Great Britain, than as immediately concerning 
themselves. The perpetual broils with their governors, 
also, had created a willingness to thwart any schemes pro- 


CHAPTER posed by these staunch and obstinate defenders of the pre- 
IIL rogative and of prescriptive abuses.* 

While these preparations were in progress, Colonel 
Washington Washington was sent on a mission to Williamsburg to 

goes to Wil- 

immsburg. procure money for the military chest. The trust was ex- 
May so. ecu ted with despatch and success. On returning to camp 
he found that a detachment of five hundred men had 
marched in advance ; and all the troops were immediate 
ly put in motion, except- a small party left as a guard at 
Fort Cumberland. The scene was new to the gener 
al and his officers, and obstacles presented themselves at 
every step, which they had not anticipated. The rough 
ness of the road made it impossible for the usual number 
of horses to drag the wagons, loaded as they were, not 
only with the supplies and munitions, but with superflu 
ous baggage, and the camp equipage of the officers ; and 
they were obliged to double the teams, thus detaining the 
whole train of wagons, till those in front were forced 
along by this tedious process. 

His opinion It w as soon apparent, that, with these hindrances, the 

in a council rr 

season might be consumed in crossing the mountains. A 
council of war was resorted to ; but before it met, the 
general privately asked the opinion of Colonel Washing 
ton. " I urged him," said he, " in the warmest terms I 
was able, to push forward, if he even did it with a small 
but chosen band, with such artillery and light stores as 
were necessary, leaving the heavy artillery and baggage 
with the rear division to follow by slow and easy marches, 
which they might do safely while we were advancing in 
front." His reason for pressing this measure was, that, 
from the best advices, an accession of force was shortly 
expected at Fort Duquesne, and that it was of the utmost 
moment to make the attack before such an event should 

* The merit of procuring the wagons and horses, here mentioned, 
was wholly due to the personal exertions of Franklin, and not to any 
agency or previous intention of the Pennsylvania Assembly. When he 
returned to Philadelphia, however, the Assembly being in session, they 
J a vote of thanks for his services. 


occur. It was moreover important to divide the army, CHAPTER 
because the narrowness of the road, and the difficulty of IIL 
getting the wagons along, caused it to be stretched into j ?55. 
a line four miles in length, by which the soldiers were 
so much scattered, that they might be attacked and routed 
at any point, even by small parties, before a proper force 
could be brought to their support. 

These suggestions prevailed in the council, and were HIS advice 


approved by the general. The army was separated into 
two divisions. Braddock led the advanced division of 
twelve hundred men lightly equipped, taking only such 
carriages and articles as were absolutely essential. Colo 
nel Dunbar, with the residue of the army, about six hun 
dred, remained in the rear. 

At this time Colonel Washington was seized with a seized with 

i a v *' ent 

rasing fever, which was so violent as to alarm the physi- < fever which 

r 3 detains him 

cian ; and, as an act of humanity, the general ordered him several days. 
to proceed no further, till the danger was over ; with a June i4 
solemn pledge, that he should be brought up to the front 
of the army before it should reach the French fort. Con 
signed to a wagon, and to the physician's care, he contin 
ued with the rear division nearly two weeks, when he 
was enabled to be moved forward by slow stages, but not 
without much pain from weakness and the jolting of the 
vehicle. He overtook the general at the mouth of the 
Youghiogany River, fifteen miles from Fort Duquesne, the juiy s. 
evening before the battle of the Monongahela. 

The officers and soldiers were now in the highest spir- March of the 
its, and firm in the conviction, that they should within a 
few hours victoriously enter the walls of Fort Duquesne. 
The steep and rugged grounds, on the north side of the 
Monongahela, prevented the army from marching in that 
direction, and it was necessary in approaching the fort, 
now about fifteen miles distant, to ford the river twice, 
and march a part of the way on the south side. Early 
on the morning of the 9th, all things were in readiness, 
and the whole train passed through the river a little below 
the mouth of the Youghiogany, and proceeded in perfect 


CHAPTER order along the southern margin of the Monongahela. 
_ IIL Washington was often heard to say during his lifetime, 

1755. faQt ^g mos t beautiful spectacle he had ever beheld was 
the display of the British troops on this eventful morning. 
Every man was neatly dressed in full uniform, the sol 
diers were arranged in columns and marched in exact 01- 
der, the sun gleamed from their burnished arms, the river 
flowed tranquilly on their right, and the deep forest over 
shadowed them with solemn grandeur on their left. Offi 
cers and men were equally inspirited with cheering hopes 
and confident anticipations. 

Battle of the In this manner they marched forward till about noon, 

heia. ] when they arrived at the second crossing-place, ten miles 

July 9 * from Fort Duquesne. They halted but a little time, and 

then began to ford the river and regain its northern bank. 

> As soon as they had crossed, they came upon a level 

plain, elevated only a few feet above the surface of the 

river, and extending northward nearly half a mile from 

its margin. Then commenced a gradual ascent at an an 

gle of about three degrees, which terminated in hills of 

a considerable height at no great distance beyond. The 

road from the fording-place to Fort Duquesne led across 

the plain and up this ascent, and thence proceeded through 

an uneven country, at that time covered with wood. 

By the order of march, a body of three hundred men, 
under Colonel Gage, made the advanced party, which 
was immediately followed by another of two hundred. 
Next came the general with the columns of artillery, the 
main body of the army, and the baggage. At one 
o'clock, the whole had crossed the river, and almost at 
this moment a sharp firing was heard upon the advanc 
ed parties, who were now ascending the hill, and had 
proceeded about a hundred yards from the termination of 
the plain. A heavy discharge of musketry was poured in 
upon their front, which was the first intelligence they 
had of the proximity of an enemy, and this was suddenly 
followed by another on the right flank. They were filled 
with the greater consternation, as no enemy was in sight, 


and the firing seemed to proceed from an invisible foe. CHAPTER 
They fired in their turn, however, but quite at random I1L 
and obviously without effect. 

The general hastened forward to the relief of the ad 
vanced parties ; but, before he could reach the spot which 
they occupied, they gave way and fell back upon the ar 
tillery and the other columns of the army, causing extreme 
confusion, and striking the whole mass with such a panic, 
that no order could afterwards be restored. The general 
and the officers behaved with the utmost courage, and 
used every effort to rally the men, and bring them to or 
der, but all in vain. In this state they continued nearly 
three hours, huddling together in confused bodies, firing 
irregularly, shooting down their own officers and men, and 
doing no perceptible harm to the enemy. The Virginia 
provincials were the only troops, who seemed to retain 
their senses, and they behaved with a bravery and reso 
lution worthy of a better fate. They adopted the Indian 
mode, and fought each man for himself behind a tree. 
This was prohibited by the general, who endeavored to 
form his men into platoons and columns, as if they had 
been mancBuvring on the plains of Flanders. Meantime 
the French and Indians, concealed in the ravines and be 
hind trees, kept up a deadly and unceasing discharge of 
musketry, singling out their objects, taking deliberate aim, 
and producing a carnage almost unparalleled in the annals 
of modern warfare. More than half of the whole army, 
which had crossed the river in so proud an array only 
three hours before, were killed or wounded. The gen 
eral himself received a mortal wound, and many of his 
best officers fell by his side. 

During the whole of the action, as reported by an offi- 
cer who witnessed his conduct, Colonel Washington be- ln * he battle - 
haved with " the greatest courage and resolution." Cap 
tains Orme and Morris, the two other aids-de-camp, were 
wounded and disabled, and the duty of distributing the 
general's orders devolved on him alone. He rode in every 
direction, and was a conspicuous mark for the enemy's 


[JET. 23. 



killed and 

The rem 
nant of the 

Death of 



July 13. 

sharp-shooters. " By the all powerful dispensations of 
Providence," said he, in a letter to his brother, " I have 
been protected beyond all human probability or expecta 
tion ; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two 
horses shot under me, yet I escaped unhurt, although 
death was levelling my companions on every side of me." 
So bloody a contest has rarely been witnessed. The 
number of officers in the engagement was eighty-six, of 
whom twenty-six were killed, and thirty-seven wounded. 
The killed and wounded of the privates amounted to 
seven hundred and fourteen. On the other hand, the en 
emy's loss was small. Their force amounted at least to 
eight hundred and fifty men, of whom six hundred were 
Indians. According to the returns, not more than forty 
were killed. They fought in deep ravines, concealed by 
the bushes, and the balls of the English passed over their 

The remnant of Braddock 's army being put to flight, 
and having recrossed the river, Colonel Washington hast 
ened to meet Colonel Dunbar, and order up horses and 
wagons for the wounded. Three days were occupied in 
retreating to Gist's plantation. The enemy did not pur 
sue them. Satiated with carnage and plunder, the In 
dians could not be tempted from the battle-field, and the 
French were too few to act without their aid. The un 
fortunate general, dying of his wounds, was transported 
first in a tumbril, then on a horse, and at last was car 
ried by the soldiers. He expired the fourth day after the 
battle, and was buried in the road near Fort Necessity. 
A new panic seized the troops ; disorder and confusion 
reigned ; the artillery was destroyed ; the public stores 
and heavy baggage were burnt, no one could tell by 
whose orders ; nor were discipline and tranquillity restor 
ed, till \he straggling and bewildered companies arrived 
at Fort Cumberland. Colonel Washington, no longer con 
nected with the service, and debilitated by his late ill 
ness, stayed there a few days to regain strength, and 
then returned to Mount Vernon. 

. 23.] 



1755 - 

Such was the termination of an enterprise, one of the CHAPTER 
most memorable in American history, and almost unpar- 1IL 
alleled for its disasters, and the universal disappointment 
and consternation it occasioned. Notwithstanding its total 
and even disgraceful failure, the bitter invectives every- 
where poured out against its principal conductors, and the 
reproaches heaped upon the memory of its ill-fated com 
mander, yet the fame and character of Washington were 
greatly enhanced by it. His intrepidity and good con 
duct were lauded by his companions in arms, and pro 
claimed from province to province. Contrary to his will, 
and in spite of his efforts, he had gathered laurels from 
the defeat and ruin of others. Had the expedition been 
successful, these laurels would have adorned the brow of 
his superiors. It might have been said of him, that he 
had done his duty, and acquitted himself honorably ; but 
he could not have been the prominent and single object 
of public regard ; nor could he, by a long series of com 
mon events, have risen to so high an eminence, or acquir 
ed in so wide a sphere the admiration and confidence of 
the people. For himself, for his country, for mankind, 
therefore, this catastrophe, in appearance so calamitous and 
so deeply deplored at the time, should unquestionably be 
considered as a wise and beneficent dispensation of Provi 

It was known, that he gave prudent counsel to General ^. prudent 
Braddock, which was little heeded. During the march, a 
body of Indians offered their services, which, at the earn 
est recommendation and request of Washington, were ac 
cepted, but in so cold a manner, and the Indians were 
treated with so much neglect, that they withdrew one 
after another in disgust. On the evening preceding the 
action, they came again to camp, and renewed their offer. 
Again Colonel Washington interposed, and urged the im 
portance of these men as scouts and out-guards, their 
knowledge of the ground, and skill in fighting among 
woods. Relying on the prowess of his regular troops, and 
disdaining such allies, the general peremptorily refused to 
9 G * 


CHAPTER receive them, in a tone not more decided than ungra- 

IIL cious.* Had a scouting party of a dozen Indians preceded 

1755. the army after it crossed the Monongahela, they would 

have detected the enemy in the ravines, and reversed the 

fortunes of the day. 

character of General Braddock was a brave man and an experienced 

Braddock. . r 

officer; but, arrogant and obstinate, he had the weakness, 
at all times a folly and in his case an infatuation,- to de 
spise his enemy. Ignorant of the country, of the mode of 
warfare in which he was engaged, and of the force op 
posed to him, he refused counsel, neglected precautions, 
and thus lost his life.f 

* This was told to me by William Butler, a very old man, who had 
been a soldier in the action of the Monongahela, and who said he was 
standing as sentinel at the door of the General's tent, and heard the 
conversation. Seventy-five years after the battle, there were at least 
two men living in Pennsylvania, who were engaged in it. 

f A report has long been current in Pennsylvania, that Braddock was 
shot by one of his own men, founded on the declaration of a provincial 
soldier, who was in the action. There is another tradition, also, worthy 
of notice, which rests on the authority of Dr. Craik, the intimate friend 
of Washington from his boyhood to his death, and who was with him 
at the battle of the Monongahela. Fifteen years after that event, they 
travelled together on an expedition to the western country, with a party 
of woodsmen, for the purpose of exploring wild lands. While near the 
junction of the Great Kenhawa and Ohio Rivers, a company of Indians 
came to them with an interpreter, at the head of whom was an aged 
and venerable chief. This personage made known to them by the in 
terpreter, that, hearing Colonel Washington was in that region, he had 
come a long way to visit him, adding, that, during the battle of the 
Monongahela, he had singled him out as a conspicuous object, fired his 
rifle at him many times, and directed his young warriors to do the same, 
but to his utter astonishment none of their balls took effect. He was 
then persuaded, that the youthful hero was under the special guardian 
ship of the Great Spirit, and immediately ceased to fire at him. He was 
now come to pay homage to the man, who was the particular favorite 
of Heaven, and who could never die in battle. 

.-Ex. 23.] 




Colonel Washington appointed Commander-in-chief of the Virginia Forces. 
Distresses of the Frontier Inhabitants. Reforms in the Arrangement 
and Discipline of the Army. Difficulties with an Officer holding a King's 
Commission concerning Rank. Washington visits General Shirley at 
Boston upon this Subject. His Claim confirmed. Returns and repairs 
to his Head-quarters at Winchester. Embarrassments of his Situation. 
Testimonies of Confidence in his Character and Ability. Occurrences 
of the Campaign. Incursions of the Savages Plan of Fortifications for 
the Interior. Fort Cumberland. Memorial presented by Colonel Wash 
ington to the Earl of Loudoun on the State of Military Affairs in Virginia. 

ALTHOUGH Colonel Washington retired to a private sta 
tion at Mount Vernon, he did not neglect his duties to 
the public. Still holding the office of adjutant-general of 
the militia, he circulated orders for them to assemble at 
certain times and places to be exercised and reviewed. 
So much were the inhabitants alarmed at the recent suc 
cesses of the enemy, that their martial spirit received a 
new impulse, and volunteer companies began to be organ 
ized. Their ardor was stimulated from the pulpit, and it 
was in a sermon to one of these companies, that the ac 
complished and eloquent Samuel Davies pronounced the 
celebrated encomium in a single sentence, which has often 
been quoted as prophetic. After praising the zeal and 
courage, which had been shown by the Virginia troops, 
the preacher added; "As a remarkable instance of this, 
I may point out to the public that heroic youth, Colonel 
Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has 
hitherto preserved in so signal a manner for some impor 
tant service to his country." This was but the echo of 
the general voice, and it is a proof of the high estimation 
in which the character of Washington was at this time 
held by his countrymen, and of the hopes it had raised. 

Another and more substantial proof soon followed. The 
Virginia legislature voted forty thousand pounds for the 



Retires to 
Mount Ver 

of his future 

by the Vir 
ginia legis 



[JEx. 5J3. 


continue m 

Accepts the 

command of 

the Virginia 


August 14. 

public service, and enlarged their regiment to sixteen com- 
panics. Three hundred pounds were likewise granted to 
Colonel Washington, and proportional sums to the other 
officers and privates, " for their gallant behavior and losses " 
at the battle of the Monongahela. 

While the bill was pending, his friends in the Assembly 
wro te to him, urging his attendance at Williamsburg, and 
expressing their wishes, that he might be appointed to the 
command of the army under its new organization. Inter 
est was made for another person, which was known to be 
countenanced by the governor's predilections. To these 
letters, and particularly to one from his elder brother, then 
a member of the Assembly, he replied in language worthy 
of himself, dignified, disinterested, firm. He said that he 
had served two campaigns, besides performing a perilous 
journey, had suffered much in his health and affairs, had 
been deprived of his commission in a way to wound his 
feelings, had gone out and fought as a volunteer, and 
that the result of the whole was vexation and disappoint 
ment. He added, however, " I am always willing and 
ready to render my country any services that I am capa 
ble of, but never upon the terms I have done." He did 
not absolutely ,refuse to accept the command, if it should 
be offered, but said he would not seek what he did not 
covet, nor be thought to solicit what he would receive 
only as voluntarily bestowed by his countrymen. Stand 
ing on this high ground, he prescribed several conditions 
as essential ; among others, a voice in choosing his offi 
cers, a better system of military regulations, more prompt 
ness in paying the troops, and a thorough reform, inducing 
activity and method, in all the departments for procuring 

No one, probably, was more surprised than himself, 

, -i i mi 

that all his requisitions should be complied with. The 
appointment was confirmed in the fullest latitude of his 
demands, with the additional privilege of an aid-de-camp 
and secretary. He had been at home but four weeks, 
when he was called to Williamsburg to receive his in- 


structions and make arrangements for organizing the new CHAPTER 
army. Public opinion had subdued the governor's partial- 1V ' 
ity for another candidate, and he acquiesced with apparent 1755. 
satisfaction. In a letter to the ministry, he spoke of Colo 
nel Washington as "a man of great merit and resolution," 
adding, " I am convinced, if General Braddock had sur 
vived, he would have recommended him to the royal favor, 
which I beg your interest in recommending." How far 
the minister's interest was effectual is uncertain; but no 
royal favor to Washington ever crossed the Atlantic. 

Being now established in a command of high responsi- nead- 
bility, he applied himself to the discharge of its duties Winchester. 
with his accustomed energy and circumspection. Lieu 
tenant-Colonel Adam Stephen and Major Andrew Lewis 
were the field-officers next in rank. His head-quarters 
were fixed at Winchester. After putting affairs in train, 
sending out recruiting officers, and reporting to the gov 
ernor the state of the old regiment and estimates for the 
new, he performed a tour of inspection among the moun- Performs a 

... , i/-/* T-I tour of in- 

tains, visiting all the outposts along the frontier from Fort 

Cumberland to Fort Dinwiddie on Jackson's River, giving s ep tember - 
the necessary orders, and obtaining, from personal obser 
vation, a knowledge of every thing within the compass of 
his command. Scarcely was this service completed, when 
an express overtook him, on his way to Williamsburg, 
bringing intelligence that the Indians had broken into the 
back settlements, committed ravages and murders, and 
spread terror on every side. He hastened back to head- caiiedback 

by an c\- 

quarters, called in the recruits, summoned the militia to press- 
assemble, and ordered out such a force as he could mus 
ter to repel the ruthless invaders. The check was timely 
and effectual, but not such as to quiet the fears of the 
inhabitants, who flocked in families from their homes ; 
and so great was the panic, that many of them continued 
their flight till they had crossed the Blue Ridge. 

On this occasion the patience and sensibility of the Defect* of 
commander, as well as his discretion and address, were system. 
put to a severe trial. On one hand, he witnessed with 


CHAPTER an aching heart the dangers, wants, and distresses of the 
1V - inhabitants ; on the other, he experienced all the evils of 
1755. insubordination among the troops, perverseness in the mi 
litia, inactivity in the officers, disregard of orders, and 
reluctance in the civil authorities to render a proper sup 
port. And what added to his mortification was, that the 
laws gave him no power to correct these evils, either by 
enforcing discipline, or compelling the indolent and re 
fractory to do their duty. The army regulations had been 
reformed, but they were still deficient in the essential ar 
ticles for preventing desertions, punishing offences, and se 
curing obedience. The militia system was suited only 
to times of peace. It provided for calling out men to re 
pel invasion ; but the powers granted for effecting it were 
so limited, as to be almost inoperative. 

These de- These defects, and their fatal consequences, were re- 
sent S edT r the presented in strong language by Colonel Washington, in 
his official communications to the governor and to the 
Speaker of the Assembly. All ears seemed dull to his 
remonstrances and closed to his counsels ; such, to use 
his own words, was the fear of displeasing the people, 
who were " so tenacious of their liberty, as not to in 
vest a power where interest and policy so unanswerably 
demanded it." By dint of perseverance, however, by at 
tending in person at the seat of government and convers 
ing with individual members, by persuasion and argument, 
A new law by force of truth and reason, he at last prevailed. A bill 
?emedy? sa was carried through the House, in which were included 
all the articles required, providing for the punishment of 
mutiny, desertion, and disobedience, for holding courts- 
martial, and for maintaining order and discipline. This 
success relieved him from a weight, which had hung 
heavily upon his thoughts. It was also a gratifying tes 
timony of the respect entertained for his opinions and 
judgment. He returned to his station with a renovated 
spirit. It was too late in the season to meditate a cam 
paign, or offensive operations. To fill up the army, re 
duce it to method, train the men, strengthen and secure 


the outposts, construct new forts, and provide supplies CHAPTER 
for the winter, were the objects demanding his attention. IV> 
These tasks were executed with unremitted assiduity. 1755. 
When his presence could be dispensed with at head 
quarters, he visited the places of rendezvous and the prin 
cipal posts, exercising, by his orders and personal oversight, 
a general superintendence, and thus promoting unity, sys 
tem, and efficiency in every part. 

There was a circumstance at this time connected with Difficulties 
his command, which caused discontent both to himself command at 

Fort Cum- 

and to his officers. At Fort Cumberland was a Captain 
Dagworthy, commissioned by Govemor*Sharpe, who had 
under him a small company of Maryland troops. This 
person had held a royal commission in the last war, upon 
which he now plumed himself, refusing obedience to any 
provincial officer, however high in rank. Hence, when 
ever Colonel Washington was at Fort Cumberland, the 
Maryland captain would pay no regard to his orders. 
The example was mischievous, and kept the garrison in 
perpetual feuds and insubordination. The affair was laid 
in due form before Governor Dinwiddie, and his positive 
order in the case was requested. Not caring to venture 
his authority in deciding a doubtful question, the gov 
ernor refrained from interference, but at the same time 
told Colonel Washington that the pretensions of Dagwor 
thy were frivolous; and he seemed not a little incensed, 
that a captain with thirty men should presume to dispute 
the rank of the commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces, 
who had been commissioned under his own hand. In 
short, he intimated to Colonel Washington, that Dagwor 
thy might be arrested, according to military usage, taking 
care, nevertheless, to give no order on the subject. 

This vacillation of the governor only increased the em 
barrassment. In the first place, the fort was in Maryland, 
and Dagworthy acted under the governor of that colony, 
who was known to encourage his claim. Again, in Gen 
eral Braddock's time, Dagworthy, on the ground of his 
old commission, had been put above provincial officers of 



. 23. 



to General 

to Boston. 

grants hia 

higher rank. With these precedents before him, Colonel 
Washington did not choose to hazard an arrest, for which 
he might himself be called to account. He was prompt, 
however, in his determination, either to resign his com 
mission, as he had formerly done for a similar reason, or 
to have this difficulty removed. 

As a last resort, it was proposed to refer the matter to 
General Shirley, now the commander-in-chief of his Ma 
jesty's armies in America ; and it was the request of 
the officers, that the petition should be presented by Col 
onel Washington in person. The proposal was approved 
by the governor, who consented to his absence, and fur 
nished him with letters to the General and other persons 
of distinction. 

Despatching orders to Colonel Stephen, who was left 
with the command of the Virginia troops, he made no 
delay in preparing for his departure. He commenced his 
tour on the 4th of February, 1756. General Shirley was 
at Boston. A journey of five hundred miles was to be 
performed in the depth of winter. Attended by his aid- 
de-camp, Captain Mercer, and by Captain Stewart, he 
travelled the whole way on horseback, pursuing the route 
through Philadelphia, New York, New London, and Rhode 
Island. He stopped several days in the principal cities, 
where his character, and the curiosity to see a person so 
renowned for his bravery and miraculous escape at Brad- 
dock's defeat, procured for him much notice. He was 
politely received by General Shirley, who acceded to his 
petition in its fullest extent, giving a pointed order in 
writing, that Dagworthy should be subject to his com 
mand. The journey was advantageous in other respects. 
The plan of operations for the coming campaign was ex 
plained to him by the General ; and he formed acquaint 
ances and acquired knowledge eminently useful to him 
at a future day. He was absent from Virginia seven 

While in New York, he was lodged and kindly enter 
tained at the house of Mr. Beverley Robinson, between 


whom and himself an intimacy of friendship subsisted, CHAPTER 
which indeed continued without change, till severed by lv> 
their opposite fortunes twenty years afterwards in the 1756. 
revolution. It happened that Miss Mary Phillips, a sister by 
of Mrs. Robinson, ajid a young lady of rare accomplish- 
ments, was an inmate in the family. The charms of 
this lady made a deep impression upon the heart of the 
Virginia Colonel. He went to Boston, returned, and was 
again welcomed to the hospitality of Mr. Robinson. He 
lingered there, till duty called him away ; but he was 
careful to intrust his secret to a confidential friend, whose 
letters kept him informed of every important event. In 
a few months intelligence came, that a rival was in the 
field, and that the consequences could not be answered 
for, if he delayed to renew his visits to New York. 
Whether time, the bustle of a camp, or the scenes of 
war, had moderated his admiration, or whether he de 
spaired of success, is not known. He never saw the lady 
again, till she was married to that same rival, Captain 
Morris, his former associate in arms, and one of Braddock's 

He had before felt the influence of the tender passion. 
At the age of seventeen he was smitten by the graces 
of a fair one, whom he called a " Lowland beauty," and 
whose praises he recorded in glowing strains, while wan 
dering with his surveyor's compass among the Allegany 
Mountains. On that occasion he wrote desponding letters 
to a friend, and indited plaintive verses, but never ven 
tured to reveal his emotions to the lady, who was un 
consciously the cause of his pains. 

As the Assembly was to convene just \t the time of Repairs to 

, . , Williams- 

his return, he hastened to Williamsburg, in order to ma- b^g an d 

matures a 

ture a plan for employing the army during the summer, plan for the 
The idea of offensive operations was abandoned at the April, 
outset. Neither artillery, engineers, nor the means of 
transportation necessary for such an object, could be pro 
cured. Pennsylvania and Maryland, aroused at last from 
their apathy, had appropriated money for defence ; but, 

10 H 


CHAPTER not inclined to unite with Virginia or each other in any 
lv ' concerted measures, they were contented to expend their 
1756. substance in fortifying their own borders. If a more lib 
eral policy had predominated, if these colonies had smoth 
ered their local jealousies and looked only to their com 
mon interests, they might by a single combined effort 
have driven the French from the Ohio, and rested in quiet 
the remainder of the war. There being no hope of such 
a result, it was foreseen by the Virginians, that the most 
strenuous exertions would be requisite to defend the long 
line of their frontiers against the inroads of the savages. 

Armyaug- The Assembly readily came to a determination, there- 


fore, to augment the army to fifteen hundred men. A 
bill was enacted for drafting militia to supply the defi 
ciency of recruits, and commissioners were appointed to 
superintend the business, of whom the Speaker was chair 
man. These drafted men were to serve till December, to 
be incorporated into the army, and subjected to the mili 
tary code. By an express clause in the law, they could 
not be marched out of the province. 

Returns Colonel Washington repaired to his head-quarters at 

quarters. Winchester. A few men only were stationed there, the 
regiment being mostly dispersed at different posts in the 
interior, so situated as to afford the best protection to the 
inhabitants. The enemy were on the alert. Scarcely a 
day passed without new accounts of Indian depredations 
and massacres. The scouting parties and even the forts 
were attacked, and many of the soldiers and some of the 
bravest officers killed. So bold were the savages, that 
they committed robberies and murders within twenty miles 
of Winchester, and serious apprehensions were entertained 
for the safety of that place. The feelings of the com 
mander, deeply affected by the scenes he witnessed, and 
his inability to extend relief, are vividly portrayed in a 
letter to the governor. 

the^SLf " ^ our Honor may see," said he, "to what unhappy 
ue d ss d es s ofthe stnuts tne distressed inhabitants and myself are reduced. 
* am t0 little acc l uainted > Sir > with pathetic language to 


attempt a description of the people's distresses, though I CHAPTER 
have a generous soul, sensible of wrongs, and swelling 
for redress. But what can I do ? I see their situation, 1756. 
know their danger, and participate their sufferings, with 
out having it in my power to give them further relief, 
than uncertain promises. In short, I see inevitable de 
struction in so clear a light, that, unless vigorous meas 
ures are taken by the Assembly, and speedy assistance 
sent from below, the poor inhabitants, that are now in 
forts, must unavoidably fall, while the remainder are fly 
ing before the barbarous foe. In fine, the melancholy sit 
uation of the people, the little prospect of assistance, the 
gross and scandalous abuse cast upon the officers in gen 
eral, which is reflecting upon me in particular, for suffer 
ing misconduct of such extraordinary kinds, and the dis 
tant prospect, if any, of gaining honor and reputation in 
the service, cause me to lament the hour that gave 
me a commission, and would induce me, at any other 
time than this of imminent danger, to resign, without one 
hesitating moment, a command from which I never ex 
pect to reap either honor or benefit ; but, on the contrary, 
have almost an absolute certainty of incurring displeasure 
below, while the murder of helpless families may be laid 
to my account here ! The supplicating tears of the wo 
men, and moving petitions of the men, melt me into such 
deadly sorrow, that I solemnly declare, if I know my 
own mind, I could offer myself a willing sacrifice to the 
butchering enemy, provided that would contribute to the 
people's ease." 

These agonizing sensations were heightened by a cir- False ru- 
cumstance here alluded to, the more painful because he parking" the 


conceived it to be the offspring of injustice and ingrati 
tude, and a reflection upon his honor and fidelity as an 
officer. Rumors were circulated to the disparagement of 
the army, charging the officers with gross irregularities 
and neglect of duty, and indirectly throwing the blame 
upon the commander. A malicious person filled a gazette 
with tales of this sort, which seemed for the moment to 


CHAPTER receive public countenance. Conscious of having acted 

IV ' with the utmost vigilance, knowing the falsehood and 

1756. wickedness of these slanders, and indignant at so base a 

manoeuvre to stain his character, it was his first impulse 

to retire from a station, in which patriotism, the purest 

intentions, hardships, and sacrifices, were rewarded only 

with calumny and reproach. 

Advice of This intimation was viewed by his friends in the House 

his friends .. . . 

not to be of Burgesses and the Council with much concern, as their 

moved by 

these caium- letters testified. Mingling approbation with remonstrance, 
May. and praise with advice, they made such representations, 
as it was not easy for him to disregard. " You cannot 
but know," said Landon Carter, " that nothing but want 
of power in your country* has prevented it from adding 
every honor and reward, that perfect merit could have 
entitled itself to. How are we grieved to hear Colonel 
George Washington hinting to his country, that he is wil 
ling to retire ! Give me leave, as your intimate friend, to 
persuade you to forget, that any thing has been said to 
your dishonor ; and recollect, that it could not have come 
from any man that knew you. And, as it may have been 
the artifice of one in no esteem among your countrymen, 
to raise in you such unjust suspicions, as would induce 
you to desert the cause, that his own preferment might 
meet with no obstacle, I am confident you will endeavor 
to give us the good effects, not only of duty, but of great 
cheerfulness and satisfaction, in such a service. No, Sir, 
rather let Braddock's bed be your aim, than any thing 
that might discolor those laurels, which I promise myself 
are kept in store for you." Another friend wrote ; " From 
my constant attendance in the House, I can with great 
truth say, I never heard your conduct questioned. When 
ever you are mentioned, it is with the greatest respect. 
Your orders and instructions appear in a light worthy of 
the most experienced officer. I can assure you, that a 

* Meaning by country the popular branch of the legislature, or the 
people of Virginia generally. 


very great majority of the House prefer you to any other CHAPTER 
person." Iv - 

Colonel Fairfax, his early patron, and a member of the 3756. 
governor's Council, wrote in terms still more soothing. 
" Your endeavors in the service and defence of your coun 
try must redound to your honor ; therefore do not let any 
unavoidable interruptions sicken your mind in the attempts 
you may pursue. Your good health and fortune are the 
toast of every table. Among the Romans, such a general 
acclamation and public regard, shown to any of their 
chieftains, were always esteemed a high honor, and grate 
fully accepted." The Speaker of the House of Burgesses 
expressed similar sentiments, in language equally flattering 
and kind. " Our hopes, dear George, are all fixed on you 
for bringing our affairs to a happy issue. Consider of what 
fatal consequences to your country your resigning the com 
mand at this time may be ; more especially as there is no 
doubt most of the officers would follow your example. I 
hope you will allow your ruling passion, the love of your 
country, to stifle your resentment, at least till the arrival 
of Lord Loudoun, or the meeting of the Assembly, when 
you may be sure of having justice done. Who those of 
your pretended friends are, who give credit to the mali 
cious reflections in that scandalous libel, I assure you I 
am ignorant, and do declare, that I never heard any man 
of honor or reputation speak the least disrespectfully of 
you, or censure your conduct, and there is no well wisher 
to his country, that would not be greatly concerned to 
hear of your resigning." 

The same solicitude was manifested by many persons The plot 
in different parts of the province. A voice so loud and so 
unanimous he could not refuse to obey. By degrees the 
plot was unravelled. The governor, being a Scotchman, 
was surrounded by a knot of his Caledonian friends, who 
wished to profit by this alliance, and obtain for them 
selves a larger share of consideration, than they could 
command in the present order of things. The discontent 
ed, and such as thought their merits undervalued, natu- 




. 24. 

A defensive 

CHAPTER rally fell into this faction. To create dissatisfaction in 
. the army, and cause the officers to resign from disgust, 

1756. W ould not only distract the counsels of the ruling party, 
but make room for new promotions. Colonel Innes, the 
governor's favorite, would ascend to the chief command, 
and the subordinate places would be reserved for his ad 
herents. Hence false rumors were set afloat, and the pen 
of detraction was busy to disseminate them. The artifice 
was easily seen through, and its aims were defeated, by 
the leaders on the patriotic side, who looked to Colonel 
Washington as a pillar of support to their cause. 

The campaign, being a defensive one, presented no op 
portunities for acquiring glory ; but the demands on the 
resources and address of the commander were not the less 
pressing. The scene varied little from that of the pre 
ceding year, except that the difficulties were more nu 
merous and complicated. There were the same unceasing 
incursions of the savages, but more sanguinary and terri 
fying, the same tardiness in the enlistments, the same 
troubles with the militia, the same neglect in supplying 
the wants of the army ; and on every side were heard 
murmurs of discontent from the soldiers, and cries of dis 
tress from the inhabitants. 

And what increased these vexations was, that the gov 
ernor, tenacious of his authority, intrusted as little power 
as possible to the head of the army. Totally unskilled 
in military affairs, and residing two hundred miles from 
the scene of action, he yet undertook to regulate the prin 
cipal operations, sending expresses back and forth, and 
issuing vague and contradictory orders, seldom adapted to 
circumstances, frequently impracticable. This absurd in 
terference was borne with becoming patience and forti 
tude by the Commander-in-chief; but not without keen 
remonstrance to the Speaker of the Assembly and other 
friends, against being made responsible for military events, 
while the power to control them was withheld, or so 
heavily clogged as to paralyze its action. The patriotic 
party in the legislature sympathized with him, and would 

course indis 
creet and 


gladly have procured redress, had not the governor pos- CHAPTER 
sessed prerogatives, which they could not encroach upon, IV> 
and which he seemed ambitious to exercise; the more so, 1756. 
perhaps, as the leaders of the majority, learning his foible 
in this respect, had thwarted many of his schemes, and 
especially had assumed to themselves the appropriation of 
the public moneys, which by ancient usage had been un 
der the direction of the Governor and Council. 

The summer and autumn were passed in skirmishes Employ- 
with the Indians, repairing the old forts, and building army, 
new ones. By the advice of Colonel Washington a large 
fort was begun at Winchester, as a depository for the 
military stores, and a rallying point for the settlers and 
troops, should they be driven from the frontiers. It was 
called Fort Loudoun, in honor of the Earl of Loudoun, Fort 
who had now succeeded General Shirley in the American 

Another enterprise of greater magnitude was likewise ^Jj eof 
set on foot by order of the Assembly : which was a line b * rr / er *? 

* ' ' the frontier. 

of forts extending through the ranges of the Allegany 
Mountains from the Potomac River to the borders of 
North Carolina, a distance of more than three hundred 
miles, thus forming a barrier to the whole frontier. The 
scheme was not liked by the governor. Colonel Washing 
ton disapproved it. He objected, that the forts would be 
too far asunder .to support each other, that the Indians 
might pass - between them unmolested, that they would 
be expensive, and cause the troops to be so much dis 
persed as to prevent their being brought together on an 
emergency, thus tempting the enemy to come out in large 
parties and attack the weaker points. He believed, that 
three or four strong garrisons would constitute a better de 
fence. In conformity with his instructions, however, he 
drew up a plan embracing a chain of twenty-three forts, 
and fixing their several positions. He sent out parties to 
execute the works, and visited them himself from time 
to time. On one occasion he made a tour throughout the 
whole line to the southern limits of Virginia, exposed to 


CHAP! mi imminent danger from the savages, who hovered around 

IV> the small forts, and lay in wait to intercept and murder 

1756. oil wno came i n their way. 

ber r iaud um " * n the m ^ st ^ tnese toils > anot h er source of vexation 
occurred in the affair of Fort Cumberland. As this was 
now an outpost accessible to the enemy, easily assailed 
from the hills surrounding it, and containing a large quan 
tity of stores, which required a guard of one hundred and 
fifty men, who might suddenly be cut off, Colonel Wash 
ington advised the removal of the stores to a safer posi 
tion. The post was, moreover, in Maryland, and ought 
to be supported, if kept up at all, at the expense of that 
colony. For some reason not explained, the governor had 
set his heart on retaining Fort Cumberland. He said it 
was a King's fort, and he wrote to Lord Loudoun in such 
terms, as to draw from him, not only a peremptory order 
to keep the fort, but an implied censure on the designs 
and conduct of Colonel Washington in regard to it. So 
far did the governor suffer his warmth and obstinacy to 
carry him, that he ordered Fort Cumberland to be strength 
ened by calling in the smaller garrisons, and even drawing 
away the troops from Winchester, thus deranging the 
plan of operations, which the Assembly had authorized, 
and which the whole army had been employed during the 
season to effect. 

uh 1 con d tra- ^ * s no won der, that the commander's patience and 
dictoryor- equanimity began to forsake him. In a letter to the 
Dec. 19. Speaker, he said; " The late order reverses, confuses, and 
incommodes every thing ; to say nothing of the extraor 
dinary expense of carriage, disappointments; losses, and al 
terations, which must fall heavy on the country. Whence 
it arises, or why, I am truly ignorant ; but my strongest 
representations of matters relative to the peace of the fron 
tiers are disregarded, as idle and frivolous ; my proposi 
tions and measures, as partial and selfish ; and all my 
sincerest endeavors for the service of my country are per 
verted to the worst purposes. My orders are dark, doubt 
ful, and uncertain ; to-day approved, to-morrow condemned. 


Left to act and proceed at hazard, accountable for the CHAPTER 
consequences, and blamed without the benefit of defence, IV> 
if you can think my situation capable of exciting the 1756. 
smallest degree of envy, or affording the least satisfaction, 
the truth is yet hidden from you, and you entertain no 
tions very different from the reality of the case. How 
ever, I am determined to bear up under all these embar 
rassments some time longer, in hope of a better regulation 
on the arrival of Lord Loudoun, to whom I look for the 
future fate of Virginia." The Speaker replied ; "I am 
truly concerned at the uneasiness you are under in your 
present situation, and the more so, as I am sensible you 
have too much reason for it. The present unhappy state 
of our country must fill the mind of every well wisher 
to it with dismal and gloomy apprehensions ; and without 
some speedy alteration in our counsels, which may God 
send, the fate of it must soon be determined." 

The year was now drawing to a close. As the Earl Eariof 


of Loudoun was expected soon in Virginia, Colonel Wash 
ington resolved to await his arrival, and lay before him 
a general exposition of the state of affairs, and if possible 
to have the Virginia troops put upon the regular establish 
ment under the direction of his Lordship, as the only 
mode by which the command of them could be useful 
to his country, or honorable to himself. In anticipation 
of this event he drew up an able and luminous state 
ment, which he transmitted to Lord Loudoun, then with 
the armies at the north. 

The paper begins with a modest apology for intruding state of 
-upon his Lordship's notice, which is followed by a brief before the 
sketch of the history of the war in Virginia, and of the 
part acted in it by the author. With the discrimination 
of an acute observer and an experienced officer, he traced 
a narrative of events, exposed the errors that had been 
committed and their consequences, both in the civil and 
military departments, explained their causes, and suggested 
remedies for the future. The communication was favor 
ably received, and acknowledged in a complimentary reply. 




attends a 
meeting of 
and officers 
at Philadel 


mends an 
against Fort 

Returns to 

Lord Loudoun did not execute his first purpose of going 
to Virginia, but summoned a meeting of several governors 
and principal officers at Philadelphia, to consult on a com 
prehensive plan for the next campaign. Colonel Washing 
ton attended the meeting, where he met with a flattering 
reception from the Commander-in-chief, who solicited and 
duly valued his counsels. The result, however, was only 
a partial fulfilment of his hopes. In the grand scheme of 
operations it was decided, that the main efforts should be 
made on the Lakes and Canada borders, where the ene 
my's forces were embodied, and that the middle and 
southern colonies should continue in a defensive posture 
He had the satisfaction to find, nevertheless, that his ad 
vice was followed in regard to local arrangements. The 
Virginia troops were withdrawn from Fort Cumberland, 
which was left to the charge of Maryland. Colonel Stan- 
wix was stationed in the interior of Pennsylvania, with 
five companies from the Royal American Regiments ; and, 
although the Virginia commander was unsuccessful in his 
endeavors to be placed upon the British establishment, 
yet, in conformity with his wishes, he was to act in 
concert with that officer, and be in some sort under his 
orders. He strenuously recommended an expedition against 
Fort Duquesne, believing it might be effected with a cer 
tainty of success, since the French must necessarily leave 
that garrison in a weak condition, in order to concentrate 
their force at the north to meet the formidable prepara 
tions making against them in that quarter. The wisdom 
of this advice was afterwards manifest to all ; and, had it 
been seasonably heeded, it would have saved the expense^ 
of another campaign, besides preventing the ravages and 
murders committed in the mean time on the border set 
tlers. In these views, if not in others, he had the hearty 
concurrence of Governor Dinwiddie. 

From the conference at Philadelphia he returned to his 
usual station at Winchester. The remainder of the season 
was passed in a routine of duties so nearly resembling 
those of the two preceding years, as to afford little nov- 

. 25.] 




elty or interest for a separate recital. Emboldened by CHAPTER 
successes, the Indians continued their hostilities, attacking 
the outposts, and killing the defenceless inhabitants. In 
short, the service had nothing in it to reward generous 
sacrifices, or gratify a noble ambition. As a school of ex 
perience it ultimately proved advantageous to him. It 
was his good fortune, likewise, to gain honor and reputa 
tion even in so barren a field, by retaining the confidence 
of his fellow citizens, and fulfilling the expectations of 
his friends in the legislature, who had pressed upon him 
the command, and urged his holding it. * 

* During the summer of 1757, Colonel Washington was in some sort 
under the command of Colonel Stanwix, but to what extent he did not 
know, as he had received no instructions on that head, and the Gov 
ernor continued to issue his orders as formerly. At length the Governor 
wrote as follows ; " Colonel Stanwix being appointed Commander-in- 
chief [of the middle and southern provinces], you must submit to his 
orders, without regard to any you may receive from me ; he, being near 
the place, can direct affairs better than I can." This was peculiarly 
agreeable to the Commander of the Virginia regiment; for Colonel Stan 
wix was a military man, and a gentleman of an elevated and liberal spirit. 
His letters bear a high testimony to his good sense, as well as to the 
delicacy of his feelings, the amenity of his temper, and the generosity 
of his character. 

Notwithstanding the above direction, the Governor did not cease to 
write, give commands, require returns, and utter complaints as usual, 
thereby increasing the endless perplexities and bewildering doubts, with 
which Colonel Washington was harassed in all his plans and operations. 

He had requested leave of absence from Governor Dinwiddie for a 
few days to attend to certain private affairs, of a very pressing nature, 
at Mount Vernon. He afterwards repeated this request, and, as he 
seemed to be under two commanders, he thought it expedient to con 
sult them both. The Governor answered ; "As to the settlement of 
your brother's estate, your absence on that account from Fort Loudoun 
must be suspended, till our affairs give a better prospect." Colonel 
Stanwix replied to the same request ; " More than two weeks ago 
I answered your letter, in which you mentioned its being convenient 
to your private affairs to attend to them for a fortnight. In that an 
swer I expressed my concern, that you should think such a thing ne 
cessary to mention to me, as I am sure you would not choose to be 
out of call, should the service require your immediate attendance ; and 
I hope you will always take that liberty upon yourself, which I hope 
you will now do." 



. 25 


non, ill of 
a fever. 

But the fatigue of body and mind, which he suffered 
from the severity of his labors, gradually undermined his 
strength, and his physician insisted on his retiring from 
the army. He went to Mount Vernon, where his disease 
settled into a fever, and reduced him so low, that he was 
confined four months, till the 1st of March, 1758, before 
he was able to resume his command. 




Governor Dinwiddie sails for England. An Expedition against Fort Du- 
quesne planned by the British Ministry, to be under the Command of 
General Forbes. The Virginia Army augmented, and united with the 
Regular Troops in this Enterprise. Colonel Washington marches to Fort 
Cumberland. Acts in Concert with Colonel Bouquet. Joins the main 
Army at Raystown under General Forbes. Forms a Plan of March suit 
ed to the Mountains and Woods. Commands the advanced Division of 
the Army. Capture of Fort Duquesne. He returns to Virginia, resigns 
his Commission, and retires to private Life. 

GOVERNOR DINWIDDIE sailed for England in the month 
of January. His departure was not regretted. However 
amiable in his social relations, however zealous in the 
discharge of his public trusts, he failed to win the hearts, 
or command the respect, of the people. Least of all was 
he qualified to transact military affairs. His whole course 
of conduct was marked with a confusion, uncertainty, and 
waywardness, which caused infinite perplexity to the com 
mander of the Virginia troops. Every one regarded the 
change as salutary to the interests of the colony. His 
place was filled for a short time by John Blair, President 
of the Council, till the arrival of Francis Fauquier, the 
next governor. The Earl of Loudoun had been commis 
sioned as successor to Governor Dinwiddie, but his mili 
tary occupations at the north prevented his entering upon 
the duties of the office. 

A brighter prospect now opened to Colonel Washing 
ton. As soon as his health was restored, he went back 
to the army ; and from that time met with a hearty coop 
eration in all his measures. He was happy to find, also, 
that his early and constant wishes were at last to be 
realized by a combined expedition to the Ohio. New 
energy had been recently infused in the British councils 
by the accession of Mr. Pitt to the ministry. That states 
man, always guided by an enlarged policy, always friend- 


sails for 


ton's health 
is restored, 
and he 
returns to 
the army. 

April 1. 



|>ET. 26. 


Forbes ap 
pointed to 
an expedi 
tion against 
Fort Du- 

for the cam 

ly to the colonies, and understanding their condition and 
importance much better than his predecessors, resolved on 
a vigorous prosecution of the war in America. One of 
his first acts was a plan for the campaign of 1758, in 
which offensive operations were to be pursued throughout 
the frontiers. General Forbes was appointed to take com 
mand of an expedition against Fort Duquesne. To pre 
pare the way, Mr. Pitt, knowing the temper of the peo 
ple, and profiting by the mistakes heretofore committed, 
wrote a circular letter to the colonies most nearly con 
cerned, and requested their united aid on such terms, as 
were acceded to with alacrity, and carried into effect with 
promptitude and spirit. He proposed that all the colonial 
troops should be supplied with arms, ammunition, tents, 
and provisions, at the King's charge ; leaving to the col 
onies no other expense, than that of levying, clothing, 
and paying the men. It was moreover stipulated, that 
the provincial officers, when joined with the King's troops, 
should hold rank according to their commissions. Had 
this wise and equitable policy been put in practice three 
years before, it would have given a very different aspect 
to the war in America, by diminishing the heavy bur 
dens of the people, promoting harmony and good feeling, 
producing contentment among the troops, and drawing 
out the resources and strength of the country in a more 
effectual manner. 

The Virginia Assembly met, and immediately compli 
ed with the requisitions of the minister, augmenting their 
army to two thousand men, offering a bounty for enlist 
ments, and placing the whole under the general direc 
tion of the commander of his Majesty's forces, for the ex 
press purpose of marching against Fort Duquesne. They 
were divided into two regiments. The first was under 
Colonel Washington, who was likewise commander-in-chief 
of all the Virginia troops as before. At the head of the 
second regiment was Colonel Byrd. As General Forbes 
was detained at Philadelphia several weeks, Colonel Bou 
quet was stationed in the central parts of Pennsylvania 

. 26.] 




with the advanced division of regular troops, to which the CHAPTER 
provincials joined themselves as fast as they were ready. v * 
To fix on a uniform plan of action, and make the neces- 
sary arrangements, Colonel Washington had an interview 
at Conococheague with that officer, and with Sir John St. 
Clair, quartermaster-general of the combined army. He 
also visited Williamsburg, to advise with the President 
and Council respecting many essential points ; for he was 
not only obliged to perform his military duties, but to 
suggest to the civil authorities the proper modes of pro 
ceeding in relation to the army, and press upon them con 
tinually the execution of the laws, and the fulfilment of 
the pledges contained in the recent acts of the Assembly. 
The arrival of Governor Fauquier had a favorable influ- 
ence ; as he warmly espoused the interests of the colony, 
and showed a friendly regard for the commander of its 
troops, as well as a just deference to his opinions. 

For some time Colonel Washington was actively em 
ployed at Winchester, in collecting and training the newly 
enlisted men, calling in the parties from the small forts 
and supplying their places with drafted militia, engaging 
wagons and horses, and putting all things in readiness to 
march. There was much delay, and the soldiers began 
to be disorderly from inaction, and the inhabitants of the 
vicinity to murmur at the pressure laid upon them for pro 
visions and other supplies. A party of Cherokee Indians, 
who had been tempted to join the expedition, with the 
prospect of rich presents from the King's stores, came for 
ward so early, that they grew weary, discontented, and 
troublesome, and finally most of them went off in a fit of 
ill humor. 

It was a day of joy to him, therefore, when he receiv- orders 
ed orders to march the Virginia regiments from Winches- mSto to 
ter to Fort Cumberland. This was eifected by detach- toM. 
ments, which at the same time covered the convoys of July - 
wagons and packhorses. The whole arrived at Fort 
Cumberland early in July, except a small guard left at 
Fort Loudoun to protect and prosecute the works at that 



[-ffir. 26. 



Clothes his 
soldiers in 
the Indian 

July 3. 

the plan of 
Forbes for 
a new road 
over the Al- 

place. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen had proceeded by an 
other route through a part of Pennsylvania, with six com 
panies of the first regiment, and joined Colonel Bouquet at 
Raystown, thirty miles from Fort Cumberland, and the 
head-quarters of the combined army. Both regiments, in 
cluding officers and privates, amounted to about eighteen 
hundred men. The illness of General Forbes detained 
him long on the way from Philadelphia. During this time 
Colonel Washington continued at Fort Cumberland, and 
his -troops were employed, some as scouting parties, and 
others in opening a new road to Raystown and repairing 
the old one towards the Great Meadows. 

He resorted to an expedient, which proved highly ben 
eficial to the service. " My men are bare of regimental 
clothing," said he, in a letter to Colonel Bouquet, " and I 
have no prospect of a supply. So far from regretting this 
want during the present campaign, if I were left to pur 
sue my own inclinations, I would not only order the men 
to adopt the Indian dress, but cause the officers to do it 
also, and be the first to set the example myself. Nothing 
but the uncertainty of obtaining the general approbation 
causes me to hesitate a moment to leave my regimentals 
at this place, and proceed as light as any Indian in the 
woods. It is an unbecoming dress, I own ; but conven 
ience, rather than show, I think should be consulted." 
He equipped in an Indian dress two companies, which had 
been ordered to advance to the main body ; and it was 
so much approved by Colonel Bouquet, that he encouraged 
the army to adopt it. " The dress," he replied, " takes 
very well here. We see nothing but shirts and blankets. 
It should be our pattern in this expedition." Its lightness 
and convenience were suited to the heat of summer, and 
it saved expense and trouble. 

He had been but a few days at Fort Cumberland, when 
he learned with great surprise, that General Forbes was 
hesitating as to the route he should pursue in crossing 
the mountains to Fort Duquesne. The road, over which 
General Braddock marched, was the only one that had 


been cut through the wilderness for the passage of wag- CHAPTER 
ons and artillery ; and, as its construction had cost im- v 
mense toil, it seemed incredible that any other route should 1758 
be attempted, or even thought of, so late in the season. 
His sentiments being asked, he expressed them in the 
most unreserved manner, and with a cogency of argument, 
that could have been set aside only by a determination 
on the part of the general, arising from motives foreign to 
the absolute merits of the case. Colonel Bouquet, who 
participated in the general's views, desired a consultation 
with Washington on the subject. " Nothing," said he, 
" can exceed your generous dispositions for the service. 
I see, with the utmost satisfaction, that you are above the 
influences of prejudice, and ready to go heartily where 
reason and judgment shall direct. I wish sincerely that 
we may all entertain one and the same opinion j therefore 
I desire to have an interview with you at the houses built 
half way between our camps." This proposal was acced 
ed to, and the matter was deliberately discussed. 

It was represented by Colonel Washington, that a great Arguments 
deal of pains had been taken formerly by the Ohio Com- project of & 

new road. 

pany, with the aid of traders and Indians, to ascertain the August t 
most practicable route to the western country j that the 
one from Will's Creek was selected as far preferable to 
any other ; that a road had accordingly been made, over 
which General Braddock's army had passed ; and that this 
road required but slight repairs to put it in good condition. 
Even if another route could be found, he thought the ex 
periment a hazardous one at so advanced a stage in the 
season, as it would retard the operations, and, he feared, 
inevitably defeat the objects of the campaign, and defer 
the capture of Fort Duquesne to another year. Such a 
result would dishearten the colonies, which had made ex 
traordinary efforts to raise men and money for the present 
enterprise, with the full expectation of its success ; it would 
moreover embolden the southern Indians, already disaffect 
ed, who would seize the opportunity to commit new hos 
tilities, thereby distressing the inhabitants, strengthening the 
12 i* 



[JEx. 26. 




Opposes the 
scheme of 
the army 
in two divi 

His fears for 
the fate of 
the expedi- 

enemy, and adding to the difficulty of a future conquest. 
But, admitting it possible, that a new road could be made 
from Raystown through * Pennsylvania, yet no advantage 
could be derived from it, that did not actually exist in 
an equal or greater degree in Braddock's Road. Forage 
for the horses was abundant in the meadows bordering 
the latter; the streams were fordable, and the denies easy 
to be passed. 

These reasons, so obvious and forcible, did not change 
the purpose of the General, who, it was believed, had 
been influenced by the Pennsylvanians to construct a new 
road, which would be a lasting benefit to that province, 
by opening a more direct channel of intercourse with the 
West. Colonel Bouquet, of course, adhered to the views 
of his general. 

There was another project, which Colonel Washington 
disapproved, and which his advice prevailed to counteract. 
The General proposed to march the army in two divisions, 
one by Braddock's Road, the other directly from Rays- 
town, making the road as it advanced. To this scheme 
he strenuously objected. Dividing the army would weak 
en it, and the routes were so far apart, without any means 
of communication between the two, that one division 
could not succor the other in case of an attack ; and it 
was certain the enemy would take advantage of such an 
oversight. Again, if the division marching first should 
escort the convoy and be driven back, there would be a 
perilous risk of losing the stores and artillery, and of 
bringing total ruin upon the expedition. In short, every 
mischief, that could befall a divided army, acting against 
the concentrated force of an enemy, was to be appre 
hended. The project was laid aside. 

His opinion was likewise desired, as to the best mode 
of advancing by deposits. He made an estimate, on the 
supposition of marching by Braddock's Road, in which it 
was shown, that the whole army might be at Fort Du- 
quesne in thirty-four days, and have then on hand a 
supply of provisions for eighty-seven days. Perceiving 


Colonel Bouquet's bias in favor of the General's ideas, he CHAPTER 
could scarcely hope his suggestions would be received. Vt 
So strong were his fears for the fate of the expedition, 1758. 
that he wrote in moving terms to Major Halket, his for 
mer associate in Braddock's army, and now one of Gen 
eral Forbes's family. 

"I am just returned," said he, "from a conference with Letter to 
Colonel Bouquet. I find him fixed, I think I may say ket. 
unalterably fixed, to lead you a new way to the Ohio, Au s ust2 * 
through a road, every inch of which is to be cut at this 
advanced season, when we have scarce time left to tread 
the beaten track, universally confessed to be the best pas 
sage through the mountains. 

" If Colonel Bouquet succeeds in this point with the 
General, all is lost, all is lost indeed, our enterprise 
will be ruined, and we shall be stopped at the Laurel Hill 
this winter; but not to gather laurels, except of the kind 
that covers the mountains. The southern Indians will 
turn against us, and these colonies will be desolated by 
such an accession to the enemy's strength. These must 
be the consequences of a miscarriage ; and a miscarriage 
is the almost necessary consequence of an attempt to 
march the army by this new route. I have given my 
reasons at large to Colonel Bouquet. He desired that I 
would do so, that he might forward them to the General. 
Should this happen, you will be able to judge of their 

"I am uninfluenced by prejudice, having no hopes or 
fears but for the general good. Of this you may be as 
sured, and that my sincere sentiments are spoken on this 

These representations were vain. Colonel Bouquet was Progress of 
ordered to send forward parties to work upon the new 
road. Six weeks had been expended in this arduous la 
bor, when General Forbes reached the camp at Raystown, 
about the middle of September. Forty-five miles only 
had been gained by the advanced party, then constructing 
a fort at Loyal Hanna, the main army still being at Rays- 






Sept. 1. 

Grant's un 

of the Vir 
ginia Assein- 

town, and the larger part of the Virginia troops at Fort 
Cumberland. At that moment the whole army might have 
been before the walls of Fort Duquesne, if they had 
marched as advised by Washington. An easy victory 
would have ensued j for it was ascertained, that the French 
at that time, including Indians, numbered not more than 
eight hundred men. Under General Forbes six thousand 
were in the field. 

In reporting these facts to the Speaker of the Virginia 
Assembly, Colonel Washington said ; " See, therefore, how 
our time has been misspent.* Behold how the golden op 
portunity has been lost, perhaps never more to be regained ! 
How is it to be accounted for ? Can General Forbes have 
orders for this? Impossible. Will, then, our injured coun 
try pass by such abuses? I hope not. Rather let a full 
representation of the matter go to his Majesty. Let him 
know how grossly his glory and interest, and the public 
money, are prostituted." About this time occurred the 
ill concerted and unfortunate adventure under Major Grant, 
who was suffered to push forward to the very doors of 
the enemy a light detachment, which was attacked, cut 
up, and routed, and he and his principal officers were 
taken prisoners. 

These proceedings, and the counsels by which General 
Forbes seemed to be guided, were so unsatisfactory to the 
Virginia House of Burgesses, and gave so discouraging a 
presage of the future, that they resolved to recall their 
troops, and place them on their own frontier. But, when 
it was known, from subsequent intelligence, that the ex 
pedition was in progress, and foreseen that its failure might 
be ascribed to the withdrawing of the Virginia regiments, 
and perhaps be actually caused by such a measure, they 
revoked their resolves, and extended the term of service 
to the end of the year. 

General Forbes had no sooner taken the command in 
person at Raystown, than he called to head-quarters Col 
onel Washington, who was followed by those companies 
of his regiments, which had been posted at Fort Cumber- 


land. Notwithstanding the strenuous opposition he had CHAPTER 
manifested to the plans of operation, as an act of duty, v> 
while they were in suspense, he suppressed his feelings 1758. 
and subdued his reluctance, from the same motive, the 
moment they were decided upon, and he then engaged 
heartily in promoting their execution. If he was mortified 
at the little attention hitherto paid to his advice, he was 
compensated by the deference now shown to his opinions 
and judgment. He attended the councils of war, and Washington 

attends a 

was consulted upon every important measure by the gen- 
eral, at whose request he drew up a line of march and 
order of battle, by which tfye army could advance with march - 
facility and safety through the woods. The fate of Brad- 
dock, and its causes, were too deeply impressed on Gen 
eral Forbes's mind to be forgotten or disregarded. Unac 
customed to this mode of warfare, more wise and less 
confident than his predecessor, he was glad to seek the 
aid of one, whose knowledge and experience would be 
available, where valor might waste its efforts in vain, 
and discipline and strength be ensnared by the artifices of 
a crafty foe. 

Several weeks previously, when the first detachments Requests to 
began to march, Colonel Washington requested to be put advance. 
in the advance. Alluding to the troops, which were to 
compose the first party, he wrote to Colonel Bouquet ; 
"I pray your interest, most sincerely, with the General, 
to get myself and my regiment included in the number. 
If any argument is needed to obtain this favor, I hope 
without vanity I may be allowed to say, that, from long 
intimacy with these woods, and frequent scouting in them, 
my men are at least as well acquainted with all the passes 
and difficulties as any troops that will be employed." 
The request was now complied with. He received Gen 
eral Forbes's orders to march with his regiment ; and at 
Loyal Hanna he was placed at the head of a division, or 
brigade, amounting to one thousand men, who were to 
move in front of the main army, and to act as pioneers 
in clearing the road, keeping out scouts and patrolling 



[JET. 26 



Army ar 
rives at Loy 
al Hanna. 

An accident 
hastens the 

guards to prevent a surprise, and throwing up intrench- 
ments at proper stations as a security to the deposits of 
provisions. While in this command, he had the temporary 
rank of brigadier. 

The month of November had set in, before General 
Forbes, with the artillery and main body of the army, ar 
rived at Loyal Hanna. The road was extremely bad, and 
difficulties without number interposed at every step to 
cause delays, discouragement, and suffering. The season 
of frost had come, and the summits of the hills were 
whitened with snow. It was no wonder that the spirits 
of the soldiers should flag, m scantily clothed and fed, as 
they were, and encountering hardships from want, expo 
sure, and incessant labor. More than fifty miles, through 
pathless and rugged wilds, still intervened between the 
army and Fort Duquesne. A council of war was held, 
and it was decided to be unadvisable, if not impracticable, 
to prosecute the campaign any further till the next sea 
son, and that a winter encampment among the mountains, 
or a retreat to the frontier settlements, was the only alter 
native that remained. Thus far all the anticipations of 
Washington had been realized. 

A mere accident, however, which happened just at this 
crisis, turned the scale of fortune, and brought hope out 
of despair. Three prisoners were taken, who gave such 
a report of the weak state of the garrison at Fort Du- 
quesne, that the council reversed their decision, and re 
solved to hazard an effort, which held out a possibility of 
success, and in any event could be scarcely more ruinous 
than the alternative first proposed. Henceforward the 
march was pursued without tents or heavy baggage, and 
with only a light train of artillery. The troops, animated 
by the example of the officers, performed their tasks with 
renovated ardor and alacrity. Washington resumed his 
command in front, attending personally to the cutting of 
the road, establishing deposits of provisions, and preparing 
the way for the main army. 


No material event occurred till the 25th of November, CHAPTER 
when General Forbes took possession of Fort Duquesne, v> 
or rather the place where it had stood. The enemy, re- 1758. 
duced in number to about five hundred men, and deserted General 

Forbes takes 

by the Indians, had abandoned the fort the day before, ^on DU- 
set fire to it, and gone down the Ohio in boats. Thus Nov< 25> 
ended an expedition, in which more than six thousand 
men had been employed for five months. Rejoiced that 
their toils were over, the troops forgot their sufferings ; 
and the people of the middle provinces, who had murmur 
ed loudly at the dilatory manner in which the campaign 
had been carried on, were contented with the issue in 
this consummation of their wishes. The continued illness 
of General Forbes had perhaps operated unfavorably. He 
was esteemed a worthy and brave man, possessing emi 
nent military talents. Worn down with infirmities, which 
had been increased by the fatigues of the campaign, he 
died a few weeks afterwards at Philadelphia. 

The lateness of the season rendered it impossible, that smaiigam- 
the French should attempt to recover the ground they FortDu- 
had lost before the next year. It was necessary, however, 
that a small garrison should be left there, as well to re 
tain possession of the post, as to keep the Indians in check 
and win their alliance. Two hundred of the Virginia 
troops were detached for this service, by the express or 
der of the general, but against the remonstrances of their 
commander, who thought they had performed their full 
share of duty.. General Forbes said he had no authority 
to leave any of the King's forces for that purpose, and 
the place was then understood to be within the jurisdic 
tion of Virginia. This latter circumstance was probably 
the reason, why the task of defence was not assigned to 
the Pennsylvanians. The French name of the fort was 
changed to Fort Pitt, in honor of the minister by whose 
counsels the expedition for capturing it had been under 

On his return, Colonel Washington stopped a short time Washington 
at Loyal Hanna, where he wrote a circular letter to the wulSmi 

* burg. 



. 26 


Resigns his 
and retires 
from the 

Address to 
him by the 

ft is military 
services and 

frontier inhabitants, requesting them to take out provis 
ions to the men at the fort, who would be in great dis 
tress if not immediately supplied, and promising a liberal 
compensation for every thing that should thus be furnish 
ed. He then proceeded by way of Mount Vernon to 
Williamsburg. The remainder of his troops marched to 
Winchester, where they went into winter quarters. 

For some months it had been his determination, if this 
campaign should prove successful, to retire from his com 
mand at its close. By gaining possession of the Ohio, the 
great object of the war in the middle colonies was ac 
complished ; and, as he had abandoned the idea of mak 
ing any further attempts to be united to the British estab 
lishment, there was no prospect of rising higher in the 
military line ; so that neither his duty as a citizen, nor his 
ambition as a soldier, operated any longer to retain him 
in the service. The one had been faithfully discharged ; 
the other had yielded to the force of circumstances, and 
to the visions of the tranquil enjoyments of private life, 
which now opened upon his mind. After settling all his 
public accounts, therefore, he resigned his commission the 
last week in December, having been actively and almost 
uninterruptedly engaged in the service of his country 
more than five years. 

On this occasion he received from the officers, who had 
served under him, a testimony of their attachment, which 
must have been as grateful to his feelings, as it was hon 
orable to his character. They sent him an address, writ 
ten in camp, expressive of the satisfaction they had deriv 
ed from his conduct as commander, the sincerity of his 
friendship, and his affable demeanor ; and of the high 
opinion they entertained of his military talents, patriotism, 
and private virtues. 

" Nor was this opinion confined to the officers of his 
regiment. It was common in Virginia ; and had been 
adopted by the British officers with whom he served. 
The duties he performed, though not splendid, were ar 
duous ; and. were executed with zeal and with judgment. 

JET. 26.] 


The exact discipline he established in his regiment, when CHAPTER 
the temper of Virginia was extremely hostile to discipline, 
does credit to his military character: and the gallantry 1758. 
the troops displayed, whenever called into action, mani 
fests the spirit infused into them by their commander. 
The difficulties of his situation, while unable to cover the 
frontier from the French and Indians, who were spreading 
death and desolation in every quarter, were incalculably 
great ; and no better evidence of his exertions, under these 
distressing circumstances, can be given, than the undimin- 
ished confidence still placed in him by those, whom he 
was unable to protect. The efforts to which he inces 
santly stimulated his country for the purpose of obtaining 
possession of the Ohio ; the system for the conduct of the 
war, which he continually recommended ; the vigorous 
and active measures always urged upon those by whom 
he was commanded ; manifest an ardent and enterprising 
mind, tempered by judgment, and quickly improved by 
experience." * 

The events of this war had a more important influ- influence of 
ence on the life and character of Washington, than might pricing 1 

~ . _,. , . him for fu- 

at first be supposed. They proved to him and to the tore events, 
world his mental resources, courage, fortitude, and power 
over the will and actions of others. They were in fact a 
school of practical knowledge and discipline, qualifying 
him for the great work in which he was to be engaged 
at a future day. The duties of his station at the head 
of the Virginia troops, and the difficulties he had to con 
tend with during an active warfare of five years, bore a 
strong resemblance to those, that devolved on him as 
Commander-in-chief of the American armies in the Revo 
lution. They differed in magnitude, and in the ends to 
be attained ; but it will be seen, as we proceed, that they 
were analogous in many striking particulars, and that the 
former were an essential preparation for the latter. 

* Marshall's Life of Washington, 2d ed., Vol. I. p. 27 
13 K 



. 26. 




Accession to 
bis fortune. 

Washington's Marriage. For many Years a Member of the Virginia House 
of Burgesses. His Pursuits and Habits as a Planter. A Vestryman in 
the Church, and active in Parish Affairs. His Opinion of the Stamp Act. 

Takes an early and decided Stand against the Course pursued by the 
British Government towards the Colonies. Joins heartily in all the Meas 
ures of Opposition. His Services in procuring the Lands promised to the 
Officers and Soldiers in the French War. Performs a Tour to the Ohio 
and Kenhawa Rivers for the purpose of selecting those Lands. Takes 
an active Part at different Times in the Proceedings of the Virginia Le 
gislature in defending the Rights of the Colonies. His Opinions on this 
Subject. Chosen to command several Independent Companies of Militia. 

A Delegate to the first and second Virginia Conventions. A Member 
of the Continental Congress. 

IN the course of the preceding year, Colonel Washing 
ton had paid his addresses successfully to Mrs. Martha 
Custis, to whom he was married on the 6th of January, 
This lady was three months younger than him- 

f, widow of John Parke Custis, and distinguished alike 
for her beauty, accomplishments, and wealth. She was 
the daughter of John Dandridge. At the time of her 
second marriage she had two children, a son and daugh 
ter, the former six years old, the latter four. Mr. Custis 
had left large landed estates in New Kent County, and 
forty-five thousand pounds sterling in money. One third 
part of this property she held in her own right, the other 
two thirds being equally divided between her children. 

By this marriage an accession of more than one hun 
dred thousand dollars was made to Colonel Washington's 
fortune, which was already considerable in the estate at 
Mount Vernon, and other lands which he had selected 
during his surveying expeditions and obtained at different 
times. To the management of his extensive private af 
fairs his thoughts were now turned. He also took upon 
himself the guardianship of Mrs. Washington's two chil 
dren, and the care of their property, which trust he dis- 


JET. 26.] L I F E O F W A S H I N G T O N. 99 

charged with all the faithfulness and assiduity of a father, CHAPTER 
till the son became of age, and till the daughter died in VL 
her nineteenth year. This union was in every respect 1759. 
felicitous. It continued forty years. To her intimate ac- character of 
quaintances arid to the nation, the character of Mrs. Wash- ington. as 
ington was ever a theme of praise. Affable and courteous, 
exemplary in her deportment, remarkable for her deeds 
of charity and piety, unostentatious and without vanity, 
she adorned by her domestic virtues the sphere of private 
life, and filled with dignity every station in which she 
was placed.* 

While engaged in the last campaign, Colonel Washing- Elected a 
ton had been elected a representative to the House of 
Burgesses, in Virginia, from Frederic County. Having de 
termined to quit the military line, and being yet inclined 
to serve his country in a civil capacity, this choice of the 
people was peculiarly gratifying to him. As this was the 
first time he had been proposed for the popular suffrages, 
his friends urged him to leave the army for a few days, 
and repair to Winchester, where the election was to be 
held. But, regarding his duties in the field as outweigh 
ing every other consideration, he remained at his post, and 
the election was carried without his personal solicitation 
or influence. There were four candidates, and he was 
chosen by a large majority over all his competitors. The 
success was beyond his most sanguine anticipations. 

One of his friends wrote to him immediately after the 
polls were closed : " The punctual discharge of every trust, 
your humane and equitable treatment of each individual, 
and your ardent zeal for the common cause, have gained 
your point with credit ; as your friends could, with the 
greatest warmth and truth, urge the worth of those noble 
endowments and principles, as well as your superior inter 
est both here and in the House." Considering the com 
mand, which he had been obliged to exercise in Frederic 
County for near five years, and the restraints which the 

* A Memoir of this lady, written by her grandson, G. W. P. Custis, 
is contained in the first volume of the .American Portrait Gallery. 

100 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [.Ex. 27. 

CHAPTER exigency of circumstances required him occasionally to put 
upon the inhabitants, this result was deemed a triumphant 
1759. proof of his abilities, address, and power to win the affec 
tions and confidence of the people. 

compliment He did not establish himself at Mount Vernon, till 
upon him by three months after his marriage, but continued at Wil- 

the House of . ... 

Burgesses, liamsburg, or in the vicinity of that place, probably ar 
ranging the affairs of Mrs. Washington's estate. At the 
same time there was a session of the House of Burgesses, 
which he attended. It was during this session, that an 
incident occurred, which has been graphically described 
by Mr. Wirt. "By a vote of the House, the Speaker, 
Mr. Robinson, was directed to return their thanks to Col 
onel Washington, on behalf of the colony, for the distin 
guished military services which he had rendered to his 
country. As soon as Colonel Washington took his seat, 
Mr. Robinson, in obedience to this order, and following 
the impulse of his own generous and grateful heart, dis 
charged the duty with great dignity, but with such warmth 
of coloring and strength of expression, as entirely con 
founded the young hero. He rose to express his acknowl 
edgments for the honor; but such was his trepidation 
and confusion, that he could not give distinct utterance to 
a single syllable. He blushed, stammered, and trembled 
for a second ; when the Speaker relieved him by a stroke 
of address, that would have done honor to Louis the 
Fourteenth in his proudest and happiest moment. ' Sit 
down, Mr. Washington,' said he with a conciliating smile ; 
' your modesty equals your valor ; and that surpasses the 
power of any language that I possess.' " * 

A member of From this time till the beginning of the revolution, a 

the House of 

Burgesses fit- period of fifteen years, Washington was constantly a mem- 
teen years. . 

ber of the House of Burgesses, being returned by a large 
majority of votes at every election. For seven years he 
represented, jointly with another delegate, the County of 
Frederic, and afterwards the County of Fairfax, in which 

* Life of Patrick Henry, 3d edition, p. 45. 

&T. 27-32.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 101 

he resided. There were commonly two sessions in a CHAPTER 

year, and sometimes three. It appears, from a record left 

in his handwriting, that he gave his attendance punctu- 1759 
ally, and from the beginning to the end of almost every 
session. It was a maxim with him through life, to ex 
ecute punctually and thoroughly every charge which he 

His influence in public bodies was produced more by His influence 

. .in public 

the soundness of his judgment, his quick perceptions, and todies, 
his directness and undeviating sincerity, than by eloquence 
or art in recommending his opinions. He seldom spoke, 
never harangued, and it is not known that he ever made 
a set speech, or entered into a stormy debate. But his 
attention was at all times awake. He studied profoundly 
the prominent topics of discussion, and, whenever occasion 
required, was prepared to deliver his sentiments clearly, 
and to act with decision and firmness. His practice may 
be inferred from the counsel he gave to a nephew, who 
had just taken his seat for the first time in the As 

" The only advice I will offer," said he, " if you have 
a mind to command the attention of the House, is to 
speak seldom but on important subjects, except such as 
particularly relate to your constituents ; and, in the for 
mer case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject. 
Never exceed a decent warmth, and submit your senti 
ments with diffidence. A dictatorial style, though it may 
carry conviction, is always accompanied with disgust." 

After suitable preparations had been made, he retired Retires to 
with Mrs. Washington to the charming retreat at Mount vemon. 
Vernon, resolved to devote his remaining years to the pur- Apnl * 
suit of agriculture, with no higher aims than to increase 
his fortune, cultivate the social virtues, fulfil his duties 
as a citizen, and sustain in its elevated dignity and worth 
the character of a country gentleman. For this sphere 
he was extremely well fitted, both by his tastes and his 
habits of business. In all the scenes of his public career, 
even when his renown was the highest, and he was the 



. 27-32. 

Occupied as 
a planter. 

CHAPTER most actively engaged in great affairs, there was no sub- 

VI> ject upon which his mind dwelt with so lively an inter- 

1759 est and pleasure as on that of agriculture. Nor was there 

1764 ever a moment j when his thoughts would not recur to 

his tranquil home at Mount Vernon, as the seat of his 

purest happiness, or when he would not have returned 

to it with unfeigned delight. 

The occupation of a Virginia planter before the Rev 
olution afforded little variety of incidents. Few modes 
of existence could be more monotonous. The staple pro 
duct, particularly in the lower counties, was tobacco, to 
the culture of which Washington chiefly directed his 
care. This he exported to London for a market, making 
the shipments in his own name, and putting the tobacco 
on board vessels, which came up the Potomac River to 
his mansion at Mount Vernon, or to such other points 
as were most convenient. He had also correspondents 
in Bristol and Liverpool, to whom he sometimes consigned 

Articles of In those days, it was the practice of the Virginia plan- 
common use 

imported ters to import directly from London all the articles of 
from Lou- 
do 11 - common use. Twice a year Washington forwarded lists of 

such articles to his agent, comprising not only the necessa 
ries and conveniences for household purposes, ploughs, 
hoes, spades, scythes, and other implements of agriculture, 
saddles, bridles, and harness for his horses, but likewise 
every article of wearing apparel for himself and the dif 
ferent members of his family, specifying the names of 
each, and the ages of Mrs. Washington's two children, as 
well as the size, description, and quality of the several 
articles. * He required his agent to send him, in addition 
to a general bill of the whole, the original vouchers of 

* From an order, which he sent to a tailor in London, we learn 
the size of his person. He describes himself as " six feet high and 
proportionably made ; if any thing rather slender for a person of that 
height;" and adds that his limbs were long. At this time he was 
thirty-one years old. In exact measure, his height was six feet and 
three inches. 

&r. 27-32.] LIFE OP WASHINGTON. 103 

the shopkeepers and mechanics, from whom purchases CHAPTER 
had been made. So particular was he in these concerns, VL 
that for many years he recorded with his own hand, in 1759 
books prepared for the purpose, all the long lists of orders, 
and copies of the multifarious receipts from the different 
merchants and tradesmen, who had supplied the goods. 
In this way he kept a perfect oversight of the business, 
ascertained the prices, could detect any imposition, mis 
management, or carelessness, and tell when any advan 
tage was taken of him even in the smallest matter, of 
which, when discovered, he did not fail to remind his 
correspondents the next time he wrote. 

During the whole of this period, in short, his industry Habits of 
was equal to his enterprise in business. His daybooks, 
legers, and letter books were all kept by himself; nor 
does it appear, that he was in the habit, on any occasion, 
of resorting to the aid of a clerk or secretary. He usually 
drew up his contracts, deeds, and other papers, requiring 
legal knowledge and accuracy. It was a rule with him, 
in private as well as public transactions, not to rely on 
others for what he could do himself. 

Although his pursuits were those of a retired farmer, Hospitality 
yet he was by no means secluded from social intercourse intercourse, 
with persons of intelligence and refinement. During the 
periods of his attending the House of Burgesses at Wil- 
liamsburg, he met on terms of intimacy the eminent men 
of Virginia, who, in imitation of the governors (some 
times noblemen, and always from the higher ranks of 
English society), lived in a style of magnificence, which 
has long since passed away, and given place to the re 
publican simplicity of modern times. He was a frequent 
visiter at Annapolis, the seat of government in Maryland, 
renowned as the resort of the polite, wealthy, and fash 
ionable. At Mount Vernon he returned the civilities he 
had received, and practised, on a large and generous scale, 
the hospitality for which the southern planters have ever 
been distinguished. When he was at home, a day sel 
dom passed without the company of friends or strangers 



2T. 27-32. 



ton's relish 
for amuse 

His favorite 

at his house. In his diaries the names of these visiters 
are often mentioned, and we find among them the gov 
ernors of Virginia and Maryland, and nearly all the cele 
brated men of the southern and middle colonies, who 
were at that time and afterwards conspicuous in the his 
tory of the country. 

One of his nearest neighbors was George Mason, of 
Gunston Hall, a man possessing remarkable intellectual 
powers, deeply conversant with political science, and thor 
oughly versed in the topics of dispute then existing be 
tween England and America. Lord Fairfax was also a 
constant guest at Mount Vernon, who, although eccentric 
in his habits, possessed a cultivated mind, social qualities, 
and a perfect knowledge of the world. To these may 
be added a large circle of relatives and acquaintances, 
who sought his society, and to whom his house was 
always open. 

Washington had a relish for amusements. In his earlier 
years, as we have seen, he was fond of athletic sports, 
and the feats of agility and strength. When he was at 
Williamsburg or Annapolis, he commonly attended the 
theatrical exhibitions, such as were presented on the 
American boards at that day. But his chief diversion was 
the chase. At the proper season, it was not unusual for 
him to go out two or three times in a week with horses, 
dogs, and horns, in pursuit of foxes, accompanied by a 
small party of gentlemen, either his neighbors, or such 
visiters as happened to be at Mount Vernon. If we may 
judge by his own account, however, he could seldom 
boast of brilliant success in these excursions. He was 
not disheartened by disappointment; and when the foxes 
eluded his pursuit, he consoled himself with the reflection, 
that the main end in view, excitement and recreation, 
had been gained. 

Another favorite exercise was fowling. His youthful 
rambles in the woods, on his surveying expeditions, had 
made him familiar with the use of his gun. Game of 
various kinds abounded on his plantations, particularly the 

JET. 27 -32.] 



species of wild duck, which at certain seasons resorts in 
great numbers to the waters of the Chesapeake, and is so 
much esteemed for its superior quality. He was expert 
in the art of duck-shooting, and often practised it. 

Connected with this subject, an anecdote is related of 
him, illustrative of his resolution and courage. A person 
of lawless habits and reckless character had frequently 
entered upon the grounds near Mount Vernon, and shot 
ducks and other game. More than once he had been 
warned to desist, and not to return. It was his custom 
to cross the Potomac in a canoe, and ascend the creeks 
to some obscure place, where he could be concealed from 
observation. One day, hearing the discharge of a musket, 
Washington mounted his horse, and rode in the direction 
of the sound. The intruder discovered his approach, and 
had just time to gain the canoe and push it from the 
shore, when Washington emerged from the bushes at the 
distance of a few yards. The man raised his gun, cocked 
it, pointed it at him, and took deliberate aim; but, with 
out a moment's hesitation, he rode into the water, seized 
the prow of the canoe, drew it to land, disarmed his an 
tagonist, and inflicted on him a chastisement, which he 
never again chose to run the hazard of encountering. 

But neither his private occupations, nor his important 
duties as one of the legislators of the province, prevented 
Washington from taking an active part in many concerns 
of less moment, wherein he could be useful to his friends 
or the community. He assumed trusts at the solicitation 
of others, which sometimes involved much labor and re 
sponsibility, and in which he had no personal interest ; 
and cheerfully rendered his services as an arbitrator in 
settling disputes. Such was the confidence in his candor 
and judgment, and such his known desire to promote 
peace and concord, that he was often called upon to per 
form offices of this kind ; and it was rare that his decision 
was unsatisfactory ; for, however the parties might differ in 
opinion, they were persuaded that their cause could not 
be submitted to a more impartial or competent judge. 


Acts of use 
fulness to his 
and friends. 



[JET. 33. 


Active in 
the affairs of 
his parish. 

sioner for 
settling mil 
itary ac 

His usefulness extended to every object within the sphere 
of his influence. In the affairs of Truro Parish, to which 
Mount Vernon belonged, he took a lively concern and ex 
ercised a salutary control. He was a vestryman of that 
parish. On one occasion he gained a triumph of some 
moment, which Mr. Massey, the clergyman, who lived to 
an advanced age, used to mention as an instance of his 
address. The old church was falling to ruin, and it was 
resolved that another should be built. Several meetings 
were held, and a warm dispute arose respecting its loca 
tion, the old one being remote from the centre, and in 
conveniently situated for many of the parishioners. A 
meeting for settling the question was finally held. George 
Mason, who led the party that adhered to the ancient 
site, made an eloquent harangue, in which he appealed 
with great effect to the sensibilities of the people, conjur 
ing them not to desert the spot consecrated by the bones 
of their ancestors and the most hallowed associations. Mr. 
Massey said every one present seemed moved by this dis 
course, and, for the moment, he thought there would not 
be a dissenting voice. Washington then rose and drew 
from his pocket a roll of paper, containing an exact survey 
of Truro Parish, on which was marked the site of the old 
church, the proposed site of the new one, and the place 
where each parishioner resided. He spread this map be 
fore the audience, explained it in a few words, and then 
added, that it was for them to determine, whether they 
would be carried away by an impulse of feeling, or act 
upon the obvious principles of reason and justice. The 
argument, thus confirmed by ocular demonstration, was 
conclusive, and the church was erected on the new site. 

At the close of the French war, he had an arduous 
service to perform, as one of the commissioners for settling 
the military accounts of the colony, which were compli 
cated and of large extent. His intimate knowledge of 
the subject, and the sympathy he felt for his companions 
in arms, and all who had aided the cause of their coun 
try, were motives for throwing this task chiefly upon him, 
and he executed it faithfully. 


British writers have asserted, and perhaps believed, that CHAPTER 

Washington's sentiments did not harmonize with those of vl * 

the leaders, who resisted the aggressions of the mother 1707 - 

country at the beginning of the great struggle for inde- J^JJJ 

pendence. and that he was brought tardily into the meas- decisive part 

* against Brit 

ures of opposition. This opinion probably arose from the 
circumstance of his name not being mentioned among the 
conspicuous actors, and was strengthened by the spurious 
letters ascribed to him in the first part of the war, of 
which more *will be said hereafter. These letters were 
first published in England, and so artfully written, that 
they might easily mislead those, who were willing to be 
deceived on the side of their prejudices and wishes. It 
is nevertheless true, that no man in America took a more 
early, open, and v decided part in asserting and defending 
the rights of the colonies, and opposing the pretensions 
set up by the British government. In the Virginia legis 
lature he went heart and hand with Henry, Randolph, 
Lee, Wythe, and the other prominent leaders of the time. 
His opinions and his principles were consistent through 
out. That he looked for a conciliation, till the conven 
ing of the first Congress, and perhaps till the petition of 
that Congress had' been rejected by the King, there is no 
doubt ; and so did Franklin, Jay, Jefferson, John Adams, 
and probably all the other master spirits, who gave the 
tone to public sentiment and action. 

His disapprobation of the Stamp Act was expressed in Disapproves 

.. i n the Stamp 

unqualified terms. He spoke of it, in a letter written at Act. 
the time, as an " unconstitutional method of taxation," and 
" a direful attack on the liberties of the colonists." And 
subsequently he said, " The repeal of the Stamp Act, to 
whatever cause owing, ought much to be rejoiced at ; for, 
had the Parliament of Great Britain resolved upon en 
forcing it, the consequences, I conceive, would have been 
more direful than is generally apprehended, both to the 
mother country and her colonies. All, therefore, who were 
instrumental in procuring the repeal, are entitled to the 
thanks of every British subject, and have mine cordially." 



[Mr. 37 


Stamp Act 
followed by 
equally ob 

not to im 
port British 

He was present in the Virginia legislature, when Patrick 
Henry offered his celebrated resolutions on this subject. 
I have found no record of his vote ; but it may be pre 
sumed, from his well known sentiments, and from his 
frankness in avowing them, that he stood in the ranks of 
the patriotic party, to which he ever afterwards rendered 
his most zealous support. 

Although the Stamp Act was repealed, yet the abettors 
of that act, so odious to the colonies, were not influenced 
in yielding the point by any regard to the Absolute mer 
its of the question, but by motives of expediency for the 
moment, being resolved to seize the first opportunity to 
renew the measure, and prosecute their scheme for rais 
ing a revenue in America by taxing the people without 
their consent. They asserted the unlimited control of 
Parliament over every paft of the British dominions ; and 
the doctrine, hitherto considered as one of the vital ele 
ments of the British constitution, and the main pillar of 
British freedom, that no subject of the realm could be 
taxed except by himself or his representatives, was vir 
tually declared inapplicable to the colonies. It was no 
wonder that a people, habituated to self-government and 
nurtured in the atmosphere of liberty from the very origin 
of their political existence, should revolt at such an as 
sumption, and be roused to a defence of their rights. 

The act of Parliament imposing duties on tea, paper, 
glass, and painters' colors, imported into the colonies, was 
in reality a repetition of the Stamp Act in another form. 
It was thus understood by the people, and produced uni 
versal indignation and alarm. Spirited resolves were im 
mediately adopted in Massachusetts and other colonies, ex 
pressing a determination not to submit to this act. Arti 
cles of agreement were at the same time entered into, 
called Associations, by which those who subscribed them 
were bound not to purchase or use the manufactures of 
England, and other goods imported from that country, ex 
cept in cases of the most urgent necessity. It was thought 
this measure, if effectually pursued, would cramp the 


British commerce, and distress the manufacturers and mer- CHAPTER 

chants to such an extent, as to open the eyes of the gov- VL 

ernment to the impolicy, if not to the iniquity, of the 1769. 
course they had begun. 

The spirit of discontent and opposition diffused itself Approves 
rapidly in all the provinces. In the month of April, 1769, 

just before the assembling of the Virginia legislature, Col- g ds - 
onel Washington received sundry papers, containing the 
resolves and proceedings of the merchants of Philadelphia. 
These papers he communicated to his neighbor and friend, 
George Mason, accompanied by a letter, in which he de 
clared his own opinions in a tone of energy and decision, 
that could leave no room to doubt, as tp his sense of the 
matter, and the ground he was prepared to take. 

" At a time," said he, " when our lordly masters in April $. 
Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the 
deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly neces 
sary that something should be done to avert the stroke, 
and maintain the liberty which we have derived from 
our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the 
purpose effectually, is the point in question. 

" That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, 
to use arms in defence of so valuable a blessing, is clearly 
my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should 
be the last resource, the dernier resort. We have already, 
it is said, proved the inefficacy of addresses to the throne, 
and remonstrances to Parliament. How far, then, their at 
tention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or 
alarmed, by starving their trade and manufactures, remains 
to be tried. 

" The northern colonies, it appears, are endeavoring to 
adopt this scheme. In my opinion it is a good one, and 
must be attended with salutary effects, provided it can be 
carried pretty generally into execution." 

These sentiments were cordially reciprocated by Mr. Ma- Presents ar- 

, , , . ,. tides of As- 

son, who agreed that steps ought immediately to be taken sociationto 

* the House of 

to bring about a concert of action between Virginia and Burgesses. 
the northern colonies. This gentleman, who afterwards 



[JET. 37. 




May 18. 

ly observes 
the agree 

Secures the 
claims of the 
soldiers to 
public lands. 

drafted the first constitution of Virginia, and was a skilful 
writer, drew up a series of articles in the form of an As 
sociation. The Burgesses met in May, and, as Mr. Mason 
was not then one of their number, Washington took 
charge of the paper, with the view of laying it before 
the Assembly. As soon as the Burgesses had come to 
gether, and gone through with the forms of opening the 
session, they proceeded to consider the late doings of 
Parliament, and passed several bold and pointed resolves, 
denying the authority of Parliament to impose taxes and 
enact laws hostile to the ancient liberties of the colonists. 
The governor, Lord Botetourt, deservedly popular for his 
amiable manners and the real interest he felt in the wel 
fare of the people, and at heart opposed to the ministerial 
pretensions, could not, in justice to his sovereign and the 
trust reposed in him, silently witness these symptoms of 
disaffection and disobedience. He went the next day to 
the Capitol, summoned the Burgesses to meet him in the 
council chamber, and there dissolved the Assembly. Not 
intimidated by this exercise of the prerogative, although 
a virtual reprimand, they forthwith repaired in a body to 
a private house, and unanimously adopted the non-impor 
tation agreement, which had been prepared by George 
Mason, and presented by Washington. Every member 
subscribed his name to it, and it was then printed and 
dispersed in the country for the signatures of the people. 

Washington was scrupulous in observing this agreement; 
and, when he sent his customary annual orders to London 
for goods to be used in his family, he strictly enjoined 
his correspondents to forward none of the enumerated ar 
ticles, unless the offensive acts of Parliament should in 
the mean time be repealed. 

In the midst of his public engagements, another affair, 
extremely vexatious in its details, employed much of his 
attention. The claims of the officers and soldiers to lands, 
granted by Governor Dinwiddie as a reward for their ser 
vices at the beginning of the French war, met with innu 
merable obstacles for a long time, first from the ministry 


in England, and next from the authorities in Virginia. By CHAPTER 
his unwearied exertions, however, and by these alone, 
and mostly at his own expense, the matter was at last 1770. 
adjusted. Nor did he remit his efforts, till every officer 
and private soldier had received his due proportion. Where 
deaths had occurred, the heirs were sought out, and their 
claims verified and allowed. Even Vanbraam, who was 
believed to have deceived him at the capitulation of the 
Great Meadows, and who went as a hostage to Canada, 
thence to England, and never returned to America, was 
not forgotten in the distribution. His share was reserved, 
and he was informed that it was at his disposal. 

While this business was in progress, Washington re- Resolves to 
solved to visit the western lands in person, and select for western 
the surveys such tracts as would have an intrinsic value, 
both in regard to their location and quality. This was 
the more important, as it was necessary to take the 
land in large tracts, and then divide it according to a pre 
scribed ratio. 

In the autumn of 1770, accompanied by his friend, Tour to the 
Dr. Craik, who had been his companion in arms at the ^ 5 
battles of the Great ^Meadows and of the Monongahela, he 
performed a tour of nine weeks for this purpose. Proceed 
ing to Pittsburg on horseback, he there embarked in a 
canoe, and descended the Ohio River to the Great Ken- 
hawa, a distance of two hundred and sixty-five miles. 

At that time there were no inhabitants on the Ohio Proceeds 
below Pittsburg, except the natives of the forest. A few 

traders had wandered into those regions, and land specu 
lators had sent out emissaries to explore the country, but 
no permanent settlements had been formed. He was at 
tended down the river by William Crawford, a person ac 
customed to the woods, and a part of the way by Colonel 
Croghan, distinguished for his knowledge of Indian affairs. 
The voyage was fatiguing and somewhat hazardous, as 
they were exposed without shelter to the inclemencies of 
the weather, and no one of the party was experienced in 
the navigation of the stream. At night they landed and 



[JEx. 38 


Arrives at 
the Great 

Oct. 31. 

Dec. 1. 

well pre 
pared for the 

encamped. Occasionally they walked through the woods, 
leaving the canoe in charge "of the oarsmen. They were 
thus enabled to inspect the lands, and form a judgment 
of the soil. Washington was also gratified to meet sev 
eral of his former Indian friends, who, hearing of his 
journey, came to see him at different places. Among 
others, he recognised a chief, who had gone with him to 
the fort on French Creek, sixteen years before. They 
all greeted him with much ceremonious respect, making 
speeches according to their manner, welcoming him to 
their country, exhibiting their usual tokens of friendship 
and hospitality, and expressing a desire to maintain a pa 
cific intercourse with their white neighbors of Virginia. 

After arriving at the mouth of the Great Kenhawa, he 
ascended that river about fourteen miles, and examined 
the lands in the vicinity. He had an opportunity, like 
wise, to practise his favorite amusement of hunting. Buf 
faloes, deer, turkeys, ducks, and other wild game, were 
found in great abundance. Pleased with the situation, as 
pect, and resources of the country, he selected various 
tracts of land, which were ultimately surveyed and ap 
propriated to fulfil the pledges to the army. Having 
accomplished his object, he returned up the Ohio, and 
thence to Mount Vernon. 

Some months afterwards he assented to a proposal from 
Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, to join him in an 
excursion to the western country, and the preparations 
were partly made ; but family afflictions occurring at the 
time, in the death of Mrs. Washington's only daughter, 
prevented him from executing the design. 

The crisis was now approaching, which was to call 
Washington from his retreat, and to engage him in the 
widest sphere of public action. The complaints, remon 
strances, and lofty spirit of the colonists had wrought no 
other impression on the British ministry, than to confirm 
them in their delusions, and stimulate them to new acts 
of encroachment and severity, mistaking the calls of jus 
tice for the clamor of factious discontent, and eager to 

fir. 41.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 113 

complete by the arm of power the work, which they had CHAPTER 
begun with rashness and pursued with obstinacy. Al- VL 
though apparently shrouded in the shades of Mount Vernon, 1773. 
Washington was a close observer of every movement, 
and perfectly master of the history and principles of the 
controversy. Associating, as he did, with the eminent 
men of his day, and exercising without intermission the 
civil functions of a legislator, every topic had been brought 
under his notice and minutely examined. We have seen 
the part he had already acted ; and, such were his cau 
tion, the rectitude of his motives, his power of discrimi 
nation, and his unerring judgment, that he was never 
known to desert a cause he had once embraced, or change 
an opinion, which, from a full knowledge of facts, he 
had deliberately formed. 

The dissolution of the Assembly by Lord Botetourt had 
no other effect than to elicit a signal proof of the sen 
timents of the people, and their acquiescence in the acts 
of their representatives. At the new election every mem 
ber was returned, who had sat in the former Assembly. 
In the mean time Lord Botetourt died, and the Earl of Eari of 
Dunmore succeeded him as governor of Yirginia. The 
temper shown by the Burgesses, at their first meeting 
after he took possession of the government, was not such 
as to make him desirous of their aid, so long as he could 
dispense with it, and he prorogued them by proclamations 
from time to time till the 4th of March, 1773. This committees 
Assembly is memorable for having brought forward the 

resolves, instituting a committee of correspondence, and 
recommending the same to the legislatures of the other 
colonies, thereby establishing channels of intelligence and 
a bond of union, which proved of the utmost importance 
to the general cause. Washington was present, and gave 
his hearty support to these resolves. 

The next session, which took place in May, 1774, was News of the 
productive of still more decisive measures. Soon after the Biu n 
members had come together, news reached Williamsburg 
of the act of Parliament for shutting up the port of Bos- 
15 L* 



. 42. 



Day of 

fasting ap 

May 24. 

A general 

May 25. 

ton, and inflicting other disabilities on the inhabitants of 
that town, which was to take effect on the 1st of June. 
The sympathy and patriotic feelings of the Burgesses 
were strongly excited ; and they forthwith passed an order, 
deprecating this ministerial procedure, as a hostile invasion, 
and setting apart the 1st of June to be observed " as a 
day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to implore the 
Divine interposition for averting the heavy calamity, which 
threatened destruction to their civil rights and the evils 
of civil war, and to give them one heart and one mind 
firmly to oppose, by all just and proper means, every 
injury to American rights." The governor was alarmed 
at these symptoms, and dissolved the House the next 

Not to be diverted from their purpose, however, the 
delegates repaired immediately to the Raleigh Tavern, 
eighty-nine in number, organized themselves into a com 
mittee, and drew up and signed an Association, in which, 
after expressing in strong language their dissatisfaction 
with the late doings of the British Parliament, and their 
opinion that the vital interests of all the colonies were 
equally concerned, they advised the Committee of Corre 
spondence to communicate with the Committees of the 
other colonies, on the expediency of appointing deputies 
to meet in a general congress. Although the idea of a 
congress was in the minds of many persons throughout 
the continent, had been suggested by Franklin the year 
before, and proposed in town meetings at Boston and New 
York, yet this was the first public assembly by which it 
was formally recommended. As the governor had dissolved 
the legislature, and no other business ^seemed necessary 
to be done, many of the delegates returned to their 
homes. Such as stayed behind, attended the religious 
services on the day appointed for the fast. Washington 
writes in his Diary, that he " went to church, and fasted 
all day." 

While they were waiting to perform this duty, letters 
were received from Boston, giving an account of a town 


meeting in that place, and a resolution to call on the in- CHAPTER 
habitants of the colonies generally to enter into an agree- VL 
inent, that they would hold no further commercial inter- 1774. 

course with Great Britain, either by imports or exports. Delegate* 

Twenty-five of the late delegates were still in Williams- 
burg, among whom was Washington ; and, on the 29th uents - 
of May, they met to consider the subject. On one essen 
tial point they differed in opinion ; and, as their number 
was small, they thought it not proper to determine upon 
any public act, which should go abroad as the presumed 
sense of the colony. They did no more, therefore, than 
state the matter clearly in a circular letter, and recom 
mend a meeting of deputies at Williamsburg on the 1st 
of August, for the purpose of a more full and deliberate 
discussion. The circular was printed, and distributed in 
the several counties. 

The members, who dissented from the proposition in concerning 
its comprehensive form, were not satisfied as to the pro- tion of ex 
hibition of exports. All agreed, that the non-importation 
compact should be strictly adhered to, and even enlarged, 
so as to include every article except such as were indis 
pensable for common use, and could be obtained only from 
Great Britain. Exports stood on a different footing. Large 
debts were due to merchants in England, which could 
be paid in no other way than by exporting produce from 
the colonies. To withhold this produce was in effect a 
refusal to pay a just debt. Washington was strenuous on 
this head, and insisted, that, whatever might be done 
prospectively, honor and justice required a faithful dis 
charge of all obligations previously contracted. The reply 
was, that the colonists, after all, were the greatest suffer 
ers, that the English merchants could not expect an ex 
emption from the calamities brought upon the nation by 
the weakness or wickedness of their rulers, and that the 
debts would in the end be paid. He was not convinced 
by this reasoning. At any rate, he was not willing to 
make it the basis of action, till other less objectionable 
methods should be found unavailing. 



[JET. 42. 


County Re 


Bryan Fair 

on's senti 
ments as to 
the colonial 
v grievances. 

July 20. 

In conformity to the advice of the circular letter, meet 
ings were held in the several counties, resolutions were 
adopted, and delegates appointed to meet in convention at 
Williamsburg on the 1st of August. In Fairfax County, 
Washington presided as chairman of the meetings, and 
was one of a committee to prepare a series of resolves 
expressive of the sense of the people. The resolves them 
selves, twenty-four in all, were drafted by George Ma 
son ; and they constitute one of the ablest and most lumi 
nous expositions of the points at issue between Great Brit 
ain and the colonies, which are to be found among the 
public documents of that period. Embracing the great 
principles and facts, clothed in a nervous and appropriate 
style, they are equally marked with dignity, firmness, in 
telligence, and wisdom. They are moreover of special 
interest as containing the opinions of Washington at a 
critical time, when he was soon to be raised by his coun 
trymen to a station of the highest trust and responsibility.* 

One of his friends, Mr. Bryan Fairfax, who attended 
the first meeting, but who could not accede to all the 
resolves, explained his objections and difficulties in writ 
ing. The following extracts from Washington's letters, in 
reply, exhibit his views, and the spirit by which he was 

" That I differ very widely from you," said he, " in re 
spect to the mode of obtaining a repeal of the acts so 
much and so justly complained of, I shall not hesitate to 
acknowledge ; and that this difference in opinion probably 
proceeds from the different constructions we put upon the 
conduct and intention of the ministry, may also be true ; 
but, as I see nothing, on the one hand, to induce a be 
lief, that the Parliament would embrace a favorable op 
portunity of repealing acts, which they go on -with great 
rapidity to pass, in order to enforce their tyrannical sys 
tem ; and, on the other, I observe, or think 1 observe, that 

* These Resolves are contained in Washington's Writings, Vol. II. 
Appendix, p. 488. 

. 42.] 



government is pursuing a regular plan at the expense of law CHAPTER 
and justice to overthrow our constitutional rights and lib- VL 
erties, how can I expect any redress from a measure, which 1774. 
has been ineffectually tried already ? For, Sir, what is it 
we are contending against ? Is it against paying the duty 
of three pence per pound on tea because burdensome ? No, 
it is the right only, that we have all along disputed ; and 
to this end we have already petitioned his Majesty in as 
humble and dutiful a manner, as subjects could do. Nay, 
more, we applied to the House of Lords and House of Com 
mons in their different legislative capacities, setting forth, 
that, as Englishmen, we could not be deprived of this essen 
tial and valuable part of our constitution. If, then, as the 
fact really is, it is against the right of taxation that we 
now do, and, as I before said, all along have contended, 
why should they suppose an exertion of this power would 
be less obnoxious now than formerly ? And what reason 
have we to believe, that they would make a second at 
tempt, whilst the same sentiments fill the breast of every 
American, if they did not intend, to enforce it if possible ? 

" In short, what further proofs axe wanting to satisfy Designs of 
any one of the designs of the ministry, than their own 
acts, which are uniform and plainly tending to the same 
point, nay, if I mistake not, avowedly to fix "the right 
of taxation? What hope have we, then, from petitioning, 
when they tell us, that now or never is the time to fix 
the matter ? Shall we, after this, whine and cry for re 
lief, when we have already tried it in vain ? Or shall 
we supinely sit and see one province after another fall a 
sacrifice to despotism ? 

"If I were in any doubt, as to the right which the Right of tax- 
Parliament of Great Britain had to tax us without our " 
consent, I should most heartily coincide with you in opin 
ion, that to petition, and petition only, is the proper meth 
od to apply for relief; because we should then be asking 
a favor, and not claiming a right, which, by the law of 
nature and by our constitution, we are, in my opinion, 
indubitably entitled to. I should even think it criminal 



. 42. 


Means of 

CHAPTER to go further than this, under such an idea ; but I have 
VL none such. I think the Parliament of Great Britain have 
no more right to put their hands into my pocket, without 
my consent, than I have to put my hands into yours ; 
and, this being already urged to them in a firm, but de 
cent manner, by all the colonies, what reason is there to 
expect any thing from their justice ? 

"As to the resolution for addressing the throne, I own 
to you, Sir, I think the whole might as well have been 
expunged. I expect nothing from the measure, nor should 
my voice have sanctioned it, if the non-importation scheme 
was intended to be retarded by it ; for I am convinced, as 
much as I am of my existence, that there is no relief for 
us but in their distress ; and I think, at least I hope, that 
there is public virtue enough left among us to deny our 
selves every thing, but the bare necessaries of life, to 
accomplish this end. This we have a right to do, and 
no power upon earth can compel us to do otherwise, till 
it has first reduced us to the most abject state of slavery. 
The stopping of our exports would, no doubt, be a shorter 
method than the other to effect this purpose ; but, if we 
owe money to Great Britain, nothing but the last neces 
sity can justify the non-payment of it ; and, therefore, I 
have great doubts upon this head, and wish to see the 
other method first tried, which is legal and will facilitate 
these payments. 

" Satisfied, then, that the acts of the British Parliament 
are no longer governed by the principles of justice, that 
they are trampling upon the valuable rights of Americans, 
confirmed to them by charter and by the constitution 
they themselves boast of, and convinced beyond the small 
est doubt, that these measures are the result of delibera 
tion, and attempted to be carried into execution by the 
hand of power, is it a time to trifle, or risk our cause 
upon petitions, which with difficulty obtain access, and 
afterwards are thrown by with the utmost contempt ? Or 
should we, because heretofore unsuspicious of design, and 
then unwilling to enter into disputes with the mother 

Petitions re 
jected and 


country, go on to bear more, and forbear to enumerate CHAPTER 
our just causes of complaint ? For my own part, I shall VL 
not undertake to say where the line between Great Britain 1774. 
and the colonies should be drawn ; but I am clearly of 
opinion, that one ought to be drawn, and our rights 
clearly ascertained. I could wish, I own, that the dispute 
had been left to posterity to determine ; but the crisis is 
arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to 
every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom 
and use shall make us tame and abject slaves." 

The Convention met at Williamsburg on the day pro- convention 
posed. Washington was a member from Fairfax County, wiiiiams- 
One of the principal acts of this Convention was to adopt "^ 
a new Association, more extensive in its prohibitions than 
the former, and fixing on certain times when all further 
intercourse with British merchants, both by imports and 
exports, was to be suspended, unless the offensive acts of 
Parliament should previously be repealed. In its general 
features, this Association was nearly the same as the 
Fairfax County Resolves. After sitting six days, appoint 
ing Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Wash 
ington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, 
and Edmund Pendleton delegates to the general Congress, 
and furnishing them with instructions, the Convention 

The day appointed throughout the colonies for the Meeting of 
meeting of the first Congress, at Philadelphia, was the 5th t?nelS Ca 
of September. Two of Washington's associates, Mr. Henry 
and Mr. Pendleton, stopped on their way at Mount Ver- 
non, whence they all pursued their journey together, and 
were present at the opening of the Congress. The pro 
ceedings of this assembly need not here be recounted. 
As the debates were never made public, the part perform 
ed by each individual cannot now be known. It has only 
been ascertained, that Dickinson drafted the petition to 
the King and the address to the inhabitants of Quebec, 
Jay the address to the people of Great Britain, and Lee 
the memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies; 


CHAPTER state papers of great historical value, which extorted a 
eulogy from Chatham, and which will ever be regarded 
1774. as among the ablest specimens of practical talent and po 
litical wisdom. 

Letter to While attending the Congress, Washington received a 

SaSzie. letter from his friend, Captain Mackenzie, of the British 
Oct. 9. army, then stationed at Boston, in which the writer spoke 
of the rebellious conduct of the Bostonians, the trouble 
they had given General Gage, their military preparations, 
and their secret aim at independence. In his answer, af 
ter regretting that his friend should be engaged in such 
a service, he added ; 

condoct of " I do not mean by this to insinuate, that an officer is 
MasKif- not to discharge his duty, even when chance, not choice, 
6 " has placed him in a disagreeable situation ; but I con 
ceive, when you condemn the conduct of the Massachusetts 
people, you reason from effects, not causes ; otherwise you 
would not wonder at a people, who are every day receiv 
ing fresh proofs of a systematic assertion of arbitrary 
power, deeply planned to overturn the laws and constitu 
tion of their country, and to violate the most essential and 
valuable rights of mankind, being irritated and with diffi 
culty restrained from acts of the greatest violence and 

"Although you are taught to believe, that the people 
of Massachusetts are rebellious, setting up for independen 
cy, and what not, give me leave, my good friend, to tell 
you, that you are abused, grossly abused. This I advance 
with a degree of confidence and boldness, which may 
claim your belief, having better opportunities of knowing 
the real sentiments of the people you are among, from the 
leaders of them, in opposition to the present measures of 
the administration, than you have from those whose busi 
ness it is, not to disclose truths, but to misrepresent facts 
in order to justify as much as possible to the world their 
own conduct. Give me leave to add, and I think I can 
announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or interest 
of that government, or any other upon this continent, 


separately or collectively, to set up for independence; but CHAPTER 
this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them VL 
will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights and 1774. 
privileges, which are essential to the happiness of every 
free state, and without which, life, liberty, and property 
are rendered totally insecure. 

" These, Sir, being certain consequences, which must 

naturally result from the late acts of Parliament relative actsorpar- 


to America in general, and the government of Massachu 
setts Bay in particular, is it to be wondered at, I repeat, 
that men, who wish to avert the impending blow, should 
attempt to oppose it in its progress, or prepare for their 
defence, if it cannot be averted ? Surely I may be allowed 
to answer in the negative ; and again give me leave to 
add as my opinion, that more blood will be spilled on 
this occasion, if the ministry are determined to rmsh, 
matters to extremity, than history has ever yet furnished 
instances of in the annals of North America, and such a 
vital wound will be given to the peace of this great 
country, as time itself cannot cure, or eradicate the re 
membrance of." 

What is here said, in regard to independence, is con- state of 
firmed by the address of the first Congress to the people cemingmde- 


of Great Britain. ;{ You have been told, that we are 
seditious, impatient of government, and desirous of inde 
pendency. Be assured, that these are not facts, but cal 
umnies." That such were at this time the sentiments of 
the leaders in America, there can be no reasonable doubt ; 
being accordant with all their public acts and private 
declarations. Considering the temper of the British min 
istry, and the length to which their blindness and ob 
stinacy had already carried them, a resort to arms was 
probably anticipated. 

But it was certainly the opinion of Washington, and, opinion or 
it is believed, of all his principal coadjutors, in the earlier 
stages of the contest, that a course of measures so obvi 
ously impolitic and unjust, and so hostile to the interests 
of England herself, would not be persevered in, and that 
16 M 


CHAPTER a reconciliation would ultimately be effected on such terms 
VL as the colonists would accept ; that is, by desisting from 
1774 oppressive claims, and restoring things to their original 
position. It was his opinion, nevertheless, that the colo 
nists were bound, in duty to themselves and posterity, to 
vindicate and maintain their ancient liberties, their rights 
as men and British subjects, and that they ought to be 
prepared, with all their resources and strength, to meet 
the issue to which stern necessity might impel them. 
On this ground he stood firm, never wavering for a mo 
ment, looking steadily at the object in view, and regard 
ing the struggles and hazards in attaining it as dust in 
the balance. * 

Anecdote of Mr. Wirt relates an anecdote of him, which shows in 
in the first what estimation he was held by the members of the first 


pongress. Soon after Patrick Henry returned home, being 
asked " whom he thought the greatest man in Congress," 

' * It is not easy to determine at what precise date the idea of inde 
pendence was first entertained by the principal persons in America. 
English writers, arguing from the conduct of the colonists, have com 
monly charged them with secretly harboring such designs at a very 
early period. This is not probable. The spirit and form of their insti 
tutions, it is true, led them to act frequently as an independent people, 
and to set up high claims in regard to their rights and privileges; but 
there is no sufficient evidence to prove, that any province, or any num 
ber of prominent individuals, entertained serious thoughts of separating 
entirely from the mother country, till very near the actual commence 
ment of the war of the revolution. 

It was the belief, before the meeting of the Congress, particularly of 
the more cautious and moderate, that petitions to the King and Parlia 
ment, by a body of representatives assembled from all parts of the colo 
nies, would be respected, and in the end procure redress. They, on 
the contrary, who, like Washington, had no confidence in the success 
of this measure, looked forward to the probable appeal to arms, but still 
without any other anticipations, than, by a resolute vindication of their 
rights, to effect a change in the conduct and policy of the British gov 
ernment, and restore the colonies to their former condition. It was not 
till these petitions were rejected with a show of indifference, if not 
of contempt, that the eyes of all were opened to the necessity of un 
conditional submission, or united resistance. From that time the word 
independence was boldly pronounced, and soon became a familiar sound 
to the ears of the whole people. 


he replied, "If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge of CHAPTER 
South Carolina is by far the greatest orator ; but, if you VI - 
speak of solid information and sound judgment, Colonel 1775. 
Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on that 
floor." * This opinion was verified by every act of his 
life. His knowledge, on the subjects to which he gave 
his attention, was most thorough and exact; and all the 
world has agreed, that no other man has given such proofs 
of the soundness of his judgment. 

The business of the Congress being over, Washington Returns to 

? the occupa- 

went back to the occupations of his farm. Little leisure 

was left him, however, for these favorite pursuits. It had Oct 27> 

long been a custom in Virginia to form independent com 

panies for military discipline. These companies chose 

their own officers, adopted uniforms, and provided them 

selves with colors, arms, and drums, being governed by 

the general regulations of the militia laws. Companies of 

this description had recently been encouraged by Governor 

Dunmore, who had an Indian war upon his hands, and 

was fitting out a formidable expedition to the West. 

Their martial spirit was quickened, when it was per- chosen to 

,,..". -I i -i f command 

ceived that their services might be wanted in a cause of volunteer 
vastly greater moment. As the first military character in 
the province, Colonel Washington was much consulted 
by the officers, and his counsels were implicitly followed. 
He had hardly returned from the Congress, when he was 
solicited by the independent company of Prince William 
County to take command of them. as field-officer. Other 
companies tendered him the same honor ; and it seemed 
to be the unanimous expectation of the people, that, in 
the event of a war, he would be placed at the head of 
the Virginia forces. He yielded to the solicitations of 
the companies, reviewed them at the different points of 
rendezvous, animated them by his example ; and his ad 
vice and instructions were received by them as orders, 
which they were bound to obey. 

* Life of Patrick Henry, 3d edition, p. 113. 



[JSx. 43. 


Attends the 
second Vir 
ginia Con 

On a com 
mittee for 


ment of arts 
and manu 

The second Virginia Convention met at Richmond on 
the 20th of March, 1775. Washington attended as a dele 
gate. The proceedings of the general Congress were first 
taken up, examined, discussed, and approved. Patrick 
Henry then introduced resolutions to establish a more effi 
cient system of embodying, arming, and disciplining the 
militia. This proposition was startling to some of the 
members, who thought so bold a step premature, till the 
result of the last petition to the King should be more 
fully known. It was carried by a majority, however, who, 
like Washington, after the experiments already tried, had 
no faith in the success of petitions. A committee, of which 
Washington was a member, was accordingly selected to 
report a plan. Deference would naturally be paid to his 
superior knowledge and experience in military aifairs, and 
it may be presumed that the scheme was chiefly modelled 
by him. In defending the above resolutions, Patrick 
Henry made the celebrated speech, in which he said; " We 
must fight! I repeat it, Sir, we must fight! An appeal 
to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us ! " 

The Convention next took notice of the internal state 
of the province. To remedy the wants, which the peo 
ple would suffer from the cessation of imports, it was 
proposed to devise a plan for the encouragement of arts 
and manufactures. Washington was likewise on the com 
mittee for digesting and preparing this plan. Yarious ar 
ticles were enumerated, most essential for use, which it 
was believed might be manufactured in the colony, and 
methods were indicated for accomplishing so desirable an 
end. The people were advised to form themselves into 
societies and committees for mutual intelligence and aid, 
to offer premiums, and to promote the culture of wool, 
cotton, flax, and hemp. The members of the Convention 
agreed, that they would use home manufactures in pre 
ference to any others, and recommended this patriotic 
practice to their constituents. 

The former delegates were rechosen to represent Vir 
ginia in the next Continental Congress. On the day this 

ffir. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 125 

choice was made, Washington wrote to his brother, ap- CHAPTER 
proving his zeal in training an independent company, and VI> 
adding ; "I shall very cheerfully accept the honor of com- 1775 
manding it, if occasion require it to be drawn out, as it Rechosena 
is my full intention to devote my life and fortune in the thVSSnd 


cause we are engaged in, if needful." The time of need congress, 
soon arrived. 



. 43. 



Meeting of 
the second 

May 10. 

Crisis of af 

Meeting of the second Congress. Washington chosen Commander-in-chief 
of the Continental Army. Repairs to Cambridge, and takes the Com 
mand. State of the Army. His Intercourse with Congress. Numer 
ous Affairs devolve on him. Correspondence with General Gage. The 
Expedition to Quebec. Councils of war respecting an Assault on Bos 
ton. Organization of a new Continental Army. Difficulties in procur 
ing Recruits. Militia called out. Maritime Affairs. Armed Vessels. 
General Howe takes Command of the British Army. Condition of the 
American Army at the End of the Year. Washington's Arrangement 
of his private Affairs. 

WHEN the second Congress assembled, on the 10th of 
May, 1775, the relations between the colonies and Great 
Britain had assumed an aspect no longer doubtful. The 
petition of the former Congress, though received by the 
King, had been treated with silent neglect, and had pro 
duced no change of measures or purpose. The tone of the 
ministry and proceedings of Parliament indicated a fixed 
determination to persevere in their oppressive demands, and 
to achieve by force what they could not eflect by the 
menaces of power, or the terror of the civil arm. Hostili 
ties had in fact commenced. The tragical day at Lexing 
ton and Concord had occurred. The inexcusable rashness 
of General Gage, in sending troops into the' country on an 
errand of plunder and bloodshed, had roused the indigna 
tion of the inhabitants ; and the yeomanry of New Eng 
land were flying to their arms and rallying around the 
standard of American liberty. An army, respectable for 
numbers, strong in spirit and the justice of their cause, 
had collected in the vicinity of Boston, prepared for com 
bat, and resolved to resist any further encroachments of 
the now declared enemies to their country.' 

Such was the crisis, which presented itself to the Con 
gress when they met, and which called for the exercise 
of all their wisdom and firmness. Notwithstanding the 


hope, perhaps belief, entertained by many, that a reconcili- CHAPTER 
ation would still take place on honorable and satisfactory VI1> 
terms, yet all perceived the necessity of prompt and de- 1775. 
cided action. To shrink at this moment, to temporize and 
delay, would be a confession of weakness, an evidence of 
irresolution, which might prove of incalculable injury, both 
by damping the ardor of the Americans, and by strength 
ening the confidence of their foes. Whatever difference 
of opinion there might be on other points, every member 
felt, that the hour of preparation was come, and that an 
organized system must be instituted, which would draw 
out and concentrate the military resources of the country. 

While Congress were deliberating on this subject, Wash- washing- 

ton's sent! 

ington wrote a letter to a friend in England, in which, 
after speaking of the battle of Lexington, he says ; " This May si 
may serve to convince Lord Sandwich, and others of the 
same sentiment, that Americans will fight for their liber- 
ties and property, however pusillanimous in his Lordship's 
eyes they may appear in other respects. Unhappy it is, 
though, to reflect, that a brother's sword has been sheath 
ed in a brother's breast, and that the once happy and 
peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched in 
blood, or inhabited by slaves. Sad alternative ! But can 
a virtuous man hesitate in his choice ? " 

Congress first proceeded to consider the state of the 

, provides for 

country, and to provide for defence. Committees were the defence 

. - . of the cotin- 

appointed to prepare reports, and it is a proof of the esti- try- 
mation in which the practical talents and experience of 
Washington were held, that he was chairman of all these 
committees ; first, for recommending what posts should be 
occupied in the province of New York ; secondly, for de 
vising ways and means of procuring ammunition and mil 
itary stores ; thirdly, for making an estimate of money 
necessary to be raised ; fourthly, for preparing rules and 
regulations for the government of the army. By voting 
unanimously, that " these colonies be immediately put into 
a state of defence," Congress virtually assumed a control 
over the military operations of the whole, and the basis of 

128 + LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [Mf. 43. 

CHAPTER their plans was laid accordingly. From that time the forces 

VIL under the direction of Congress were called the Continen- 

1775. tal Army. They also resolved to raise ten companies of 

riflemen in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, which 

were to march and join the army near Boston as soon as 

possible, and to be paid by the continent. 

Difficulties These preliminary arrangements being finished, the next 

attending . . . , < 

the selection thing was to appoint a Oommander-in-chiei 01 the Amen- 

of a Com- 

mander-in- can armies. This was a task of more delicacy and diffi 
culty than might at first be supposed. Many considera 
tions were to be weighed, besides the personal qualifica 
tions of any individual for that high station, either as to 
character, abilities, or military skill. In the first place, it 
was essential that he should be acceptable to all the col 
onies, and particularly to such, as, from their position or 
extent, would be compelled to take the largest share in 
the war. Otherwise local jealousies and discontents might 
spring up, which would defeat the best laid schemes, and 
possibly ruin the cause. Next, there were officers in the 
country, older in years than Colonel Washington, who had 
acquired a reputation in the last war, and whose services 
would be necessary. To pass over such, as should be 
thought by themselves or their friends to have higher 
claims, on the score of former rank and standing, a point 
in which military men are always so sensitive, might be 
a hazardous experiment. Besides, the troops already in 
the field were wholly from the New England provinces, 
and it was uncertain how far they would be reconciled 
to a commander from the south, with whom no one among 
them had a personal acquaintance, and who could not be 
supposed to understand their habits, feelings, and prepos 
sessions. General Ward, who had hitherto been at the 
head of the army by the appointment of Massachusetts, 
and whose command was cheerfully acquiesced in by the 
other New England colonies, was an officer of experience 
and ability, and it was questionable in what light an at 
tempt to supersede him might be viewed. 


These difficulties were deeply felt by the members of CHAPTER 
Congress, and examined in all their bearings. Nor had VIL 
they come together without previously pondering the sub- 1775. 
ject, and ascertaining, as far as they could, the views of Political mo- 
men of influence in different places. From the first Con- choice 
gress they had gone home with most favorable impres 
sions of the character and talents of Colonel Washington. 
All the world acknowledged his military accomplishments, 
intellectual resources, courage, coolness, and control over 
the minds of others. Five years' experience, in a respon 
sible and arduous service, had afforded ample proofs of 
these qualities. It was fortunate, also, that political mo 
tives conspired to fix the choice on him in preference to 
any other person. Virginia was powerful in wealth and 
numbers, and doubly so in its men of brilliant parts, who 
had espoused the cause of the continent with a spirit and 
resolution, which had nowhere else been surpassed. To 
take the commander of the American armies from that 
province was a dictate of policy, which the wise and pru 
dent would not overlook, and none but the narrow mind 
ed could disapprove. 

It should be said, to the credit of the New England Part taken 
delegates, that they were among the foremost to propose, England 
and the most zealous to promote, the appointment of Col 
onel Washington. As the contest had begun in Massa 
chusetts, the inhabitants of which had been the chief suf 
ferers, and as the existing army was mostly raised there, 
it could not have been thought an extravagant assumption, 
had that colony aspired to the honor of furnishing a Com 
mander-in-chief. But, happily for America, the patriots of 
that day rose far above the sordid aims of selfishness and 
party rivalships. 

While the discussions were going on in Congress re- Washington 
specting military preparations, Mr. John Adams, one of the command 
delegates from Massachusetts, moved that the army, then can Ann", 
besieging the British troops in Boston, should be adopted 
by Congress as a Continental army ; and, in the course of 
his observations enforcing this motion, he said it was his 
17 N 



[Mr 43. 


June 15. 

His reply to 

June 16. 

contained in 
a letter to 
his wife. 

June )8. 

intention to propose for the office of Commander-in-chief a 
gentleman from Virginia, who was at that time a member 
of their own body. His remarks were so pointed, that all 
present perceived them to apply to Colonel Washington, 
who, upon hearing this reference to himself, retired from 
his seat and withdrew. When the day for the appoint 
ment arrived, the nomination was made by Mr. Thomas 
Johnson, of Maryland. The choice was by ballot, and, 
on inspecting the votes, it was found that Colonel Wash 
ington was unanimously elected. As soon as the result 
was ascertained, the House adjourned. On the convening 
of Congress the next morning, the president communicated 
to him officially the notice of his appointment, and he rose 
in his place and signified his acceptance in a brief and 
appropriate reply. 

After expressing his thanks for the signal honor done 
him by Congress, and his concern, " from the conscious 
ness that his abilities and military experience might not 
be equal to the extensive and important trust," he added ; 
" Lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavorable to 
my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gen 
tleman in the room, that I this day declare with the ut 
most sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the com 
mand I am honored with." Before the election it had 
been voted, that five hundred dollars a month should be 
allowed for the pay and expenses of the general. On this 
point he said, " I beg leave to assure the Congress, that, 
as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to 
accept this arduous employment, at the expense of my 
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any 
profit from it. I will keep an exact account of my ex 
penses. Those, I doubt not, they will discharge ; and that 
is all I desire." 

In a letter to his wife on this occasion, his sentiments 
are uttered with the same frankness, the same self-distrust, 
and under circumstances which proved them to have flow 
ed from his heart. 

^Ex. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 13] 

" You may believe me," said he, " when I assure you, CHAPTER 
in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this VIL 
appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to 1775. 
avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you 
and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a 
trust too great for my capacity, and that I should enjoy 
more real happiness in one month with you at home, than 
I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my 
stay were to be seven times seven years. But, as it has 
been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this 
service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to 
answer some good purpose. You might, and I suppose did 
perceive, from the tenor of my letters, that I was appre 
hensive I could not avoid this appointment, as I did not 
pretend to intimate when I should return. That was the 
case. It was utterly out of my power to refuse this ap 
pointment, without exposing my character to such cen 
sures, as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and 
given pain to my friends. This, I am sure, could not, 
and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must have les 
sened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely, 
therefore, confidently on that Providence, which has here 
tofore preserved and been bountiful to me." 

The appointment was made on the 15th of June. Four Receives his 
days afterwards he received his commission from the from the 
president of Congress, in which he was declared to be congress. 
Commander-in-chief of all the forces then raised, or that June 19. 
should be raised, in the united colonies, or that should 
voluntarily offer their service for the defence of American 
Liberty. The members of Congress pledged themselves 
by a unanimous resolve, to maintain, assist, and adhere to 
him, with their lives and fortunes, in the same cause. 
Four major-generals and eight brigadiers were likewise ap 
pointed for the Continental army. To the former rank were 
chosen Artemas Ward, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler, and June 22. 
Israel Putnam ; to the latter, Seth Pomroy, Richard Mont 
gomery, David Wooster, William Heath, Joseph Spencer, 
John Thomas, John Sullivan, and Nathanael Greene. To 



r. 43. 



Proceeds to 
the army. 

Arrives in 
New York. 

June 25. 

to General 

Joins the 
army at 


these was added Horatio Gates, as adjutant-general, with 
the rank of brigadier. 

The situation of affairs required the commander's pres 
ence as soon as possible at Cambridge, where the army 
was stationed. Every necessary arrangement with Con 
gress was in a short time completed, and he left Phila 
delphia on the 21st of June, accompanied by General Lee 
and General Schuyler, and escorted by a volunteer troop 
of light-horse from the city, which continued with him 
to New York. He had reviewed in Philadelphia, at the 
request of the officers, several militia companies of infantry, 
rangers, riflemen, and light-horse. Wherever he appeared, 
the people manifested great enthusiasm, and eagerness to 
show him all the respect to which his new rank entitled 
him. The Provincial Congress of New York was then 
sitting ; and, when it was known that General Washing 
ton was on the road, a committee from that body was 
deputed to meet him at Newark, and attend him across 
Hudson's River. On his arrival, addresses of congratula 
tion and civility passed between him and the New York 

The particulars of the battle of Bunker's Hill reached 
him there, and increased his anxiety to hasten forward to 
the army. General Schuyler was to remain in New York, 
as commander of the military operations in that quarter. 
This was a delicate position, as the British Governor 
Tryon was then in the city, a ship of war in the harbor 
keeping the inhabitants in awe, and throughout the pro 
vince were many powerful and avowed friends of the 
royal cause. But great confidence was placed in the fi 
delity, discretion, and firmness of General Schuyler. After 
giving him instructions suitable to the exigencies of the 
case, General Washington again pursued his journey, es 
corted by volunteer military companies. In this manner 
he travelled to Springfield, where he was met by a com 
mittee from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, who 
were instructed to provide escorts, and to attend him in 
person, through the remainder of the route. He arrived 


in Cambridge on the 2d of July, and took command of CHAPTER 
the army the next day. VIL 

The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, then sitting 1775. 
at Watertown near Cambridge, received him with great Addressed 

by the Pro- 

cordiality, and presented to him an address, proffering vinciaicon- 
every aid in their power to make his command agreeable, sacimsett*. 
and to strengthen his efforts in the common cause. The July 4 - 
testimonies of respect and satisfaction, as well from indi 
viduals as public bodies, which he had everywhere re 
ceived, were of the most flattering kind, and demonstrated 
that the people were not less unanimous in approving the 
choice of Congress, than the members of that assembly 
had been in making it. The army greeted him with 
equal warmth, and hitherto every indication tended to 
inspire a just confidence in himself, and the best hopes 
for the future. 

His first care was to ascertain the numbers, position, Ascertains 

n _ _ the state of 

and arrangements of the troops, to inspect the posts they the army, 
occupied, and to gain a knowledge of the strength and 
plans of the enemy. The British general was himself 
stationed in Boston, with the light-horse and a few other 
troops ; the bulk of his army lay on Bunker's Hill, busy 
in throwing up intrenchments ; and the remainder were 
on the neck of land between Boston and Roxbury, which 
had been strongly fortified. The Americans were so 
posted as to form a complete line of siege around Boston 
and Charlestown, extending nearly twelve miles from 
Mystic River to Dorchester. Intrenchments and redoubts 
had been begun at different points in this line, and these 
works were still in progress. The regiments from New 
Hampshire, Rhode Island, and part of those from Con 
necticut, occupied Winter Hill and Prospect Hill ; several 
of the Massachusetts regiments were at Cambridge, and 
others from Connecticut and Massachusetts covered the 
high grounds in Roxbury. 

Having acquainted himself with this state of affairs, convenes a 
General Washington convened a council of war. It was war" ci 
the opinion of the council, that, according to the best July 9. 



[2Ex. 43 


Resolved to 
hold the 
army in its 
present po 

Strength of 
the army. 

information that could be obtained, the enemy's available 
force in Boston amounted to eleven thousand five hun 
dred men, including the regular troops, Tories, and such 
sailors as might be spared from the fleet. It was also 
advised, without a dissenting voice, that the posts now 
occupied should be held and defended, and that twenty- 
two thousand men were necessary to give proper security 
to so long an extent of lines. A place of rendezvous, in 
case the army should be attacked and routed, was like 
wise agreed upon. 

The difficulty was perceived of sustaining posts so widely 
separated, almost under the guns of the enemy, and ex 
posed at many points to sudden assaults ; and the question 
of removing farther into the country to a stronger position 
was discussed. But this was thought to be neither po 
litic in itself, nor without hazard in the execution. It 
would discourage the men, elate the enemy, and have an 
ill effect upon the minds of the people. This considera 
tion, added to the uncertainty of finding a better place 
at which to make a stand, and to the great labor and 
charge already bestowed on the works for defence, was 
regarded as conclusive against a change. 

The American army, including the sick and absent, 
amounted to about seventeen thousand men ; but the 
number present, fit for duty, was only fourteen thousand 
five hundred. This was so far short of the number want 
ed, that the council recommended an immediate applica 
tion to the New England governments to make up the 
deficiency by new recruits. * 

* The warlike preparations of the British authorities in Massachu 
setts, from the time that the Boston Port Bill went into effect, had 
alarmed the people of that province ; and on the 26th of October, 1774, 
the Provincial Congress resolved on measures of defence. After recit 
ing in a preamble the causes of such a step, among which was the 
collecting of a formidable body of troops in the metropolis, with the ex 
press design of executing acts of the British Parliament subversive of 
the constitution and liberties of the province, they recommended to the 
militia to form themselves into companies of minute-men, who should 
be equipped and prepared to march at the shortest notice. These 


It will easily be supposed, that an army, collected as CHAPTER 

this had been on the spur of the moment from different I IL 

provinces and under different regulations, would be defec- 1775. 

tive in many essential parts. There were few tents and Deficiency 

of supplies 

stores, no supply of clothing, no military chest, no gen- and want of 
eral organization. The regiments acted under their re 
spective commanders, who were united only by mutual 
consent, bound together by no military law, and except 
those from Massachusetts, yielding obedience to General 
Ward rather from courtesy and the necessity of the case, 
than from any recognition of his superior authority. The 
troops of each province were regulated by their own mil- 

minute-men were to consist of one quarter of the whole rnilitia, to be 
enlisted under the direction of the field-officers, and divided into com 
panies, consisting of at least fifty men each. The privates were to 
choose their captains and subalterns, and these officers were to form 
the companies into battalions, and choose the field-officers to command 
the same. Hence the minute-men became a body distinct from the 
rest of the militia, and, by being more devoted to military exercises, 
they acquired skill in the use of arms. More attention than formerly 
was likewise bestowed on the training and drilling of the militia. 

But it was not till April 22d, 1775, three days after the affair of 
Lexington and Concord, that any movement was made towards em 
bodying a regular 'army. On that day the Massachusetts Congress 
resolved unanimously, that it was necessary for the defence of the 
colony, that an army of thirty thousand men should be immediately 
raised and established. It was at the same time resolved, that thir 
teen thousand six hundred should be raised in Massachusetts, and a 
committee was appointed to devise a plan for the establishment of 
the ^army. The remainder of the thirty thousand it was expected 
would be furnished by the other New England provinces, and for this 
object letters were addressed to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New 

In the mean time, the news of the Lexington battle had gone abroad, 
and the militia from various parts in Massachusetts and New Hamp 
shire began to assemble around Boston. Within three days, several 
companies from New Hampshire had arrived at Medford and taken 
their station in that place. The Massachusetts militia convened at 
Cambridge. The plan of the new army was soon arranged, General 
Ward was placed at its head, and recruiting orders were sent out 
The other three colonies agreed to furnish their proportion of troops, 
who were raised and sent forward with as much expedition as possible. 

136 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [^Ex. 43. 

CHAPTER itia laws. These were various and discordant ; and hence 
vn * no general system could prevail. Discipline was lax ; dis- 
1775. orders frequent. 

want of am- But the most alarming want was that of ammunition, 
respecting which the officers themselves seem to have been 
deceived, till General Washington discovered, to his great 
astonishment, that there was not powder enough in the 
whole camp for nine cartridges to a man. 
Appoint- Out of these materials, and in the midst of these em- 

ment of offl- 

sat " barrassments, it was General Washington's* first task to 
form, commission, and systematize an army. Another 
circumstance caused great perplexity from the beginning. 
The appointment of general officers by Congress had given 
much dissatisfaction. The pretensions to rank, on the 
score of former services, had not been well adjusted. The 
subordinate officers and private soldiers mingled their sym 
pathies and complaints, and threatened to leave the army 
unless these grievances should be redressed. Symptoms 
of discontent appeared in every quarter, and threatened to 
destroy the little that remained of method and discipline. 
The ferment was gradually allayed by the prudence of 
Washington, who referred the matter to Congress, and 
proceeded steadily to mature his plans. 

Arrange- He arranged the army into six brigades, of six regi 

ment of the 

ments each, in such a manner, that the troops from the 

same colony should be brought together, as far as practi 
cable, and act under a commander from that colony. Of 
the whole he made three grand divisions, each consisting 
of two brigades or twelve regiments. The division form 
ing the left wing was stationed at Winter Hill, and com 
manded by Major-General Lee ; the centre division was 
at Cambridge, under Major-General Putnam ; and the right 
wing at Roxbury, under Major-General Ward. The head 
quarters of the Commander-in-chief were with the centre 
at Cambridge. 
officers Thus was planted the original germ of the Continental 

commission- r 

ed anew. army, to foster the growth and strength of which required 
the utmost care and address. All the officers were com- 


missioned anew by Congress, although no changes of rank CHAPTER 
were attempted, and no appointments made, except of VIL 
the major and brigadier generals. By degrees the system 1775. 
worked itself into a tolerable method ; but, after all, it 
was full of imperfections, which no art or skill could rem 
edy. The soldiers had been enlisted by their respective 
governments for a definite time and object, arid they looked 
upon this contract as one which they were bound to ful 
fil, but not such as could put them under any other power. 
Each individual regarded himself as a party oncerned, 
and claimed his rights as a citizen. 

Hence, when the rules and regulations of the Conti- Thesoidiere 
nental army, which had been prescribed by Congress, luctamiy to 

**, J ' the new ar- 

were presented to them, many would not accede, because rangement 
they did not enlist on such terms, and they were appre 
hensive some new obligations might devolve on them by 
giving their assent. Having left their homes to fight for 
liberty, they chose to assert it first in their own behalf. 
However repugnant this temper was to the existence of 
an army, the commander yielded to his good sense, and 
resorted to no other force than that of argument and facts, 
judiciously set forth from time to time in the general or 
ders ; tenacious of his authority no farther than the public 
good exacted, and forbearing to oppose prejudices, which 
could not be softened by persuasion nor subdued by se 
verity. He left it optional with the men to subscribe the 
articles or not, making it a necessary condition only with 
the new recruits, who enlisted into the Continental ranks. 

In addition to the management and direction of the congress 
armies in the field, which is all that is usually expected 

from a commander-in-chief, a most responsible service of 
a different kind was thrown upon General Washington. 
Congress, as the civil head of the confederacy, was as 
yet feeble in its powers, imperfectly organized, distrustful 
of its control over the public will, and wholly unversed 
in military concerns. Nor did unanimity reign among its 
members. On the great point of resistance, till wrongs 
should be redressed, there was but one voice. As to the 
18 o* 


CHAPTER means of attaining this end, a wide difference prevailed. 

__ ' _ Some were timid, fixing their hopes upon a speedy recon- 
1775. ciliation ; others doubted the ability of the country to sus 
tain a contest ; others were influenced by local interests ; 
while others again were resolute, and allowed all thoughts 
of future consequences to be swallowed up in the single 
consideration of the justice of their cause. The majority 
were of this last description. Yet even these men, daunt 
less in spirit, and willing to risk every thing on their own 
account, were haunted by a spectre, which gave them 
great uneasiness. History had told them of the danger of 
military power, the ambition of aspiring leaders, and the 
chains that had been forged and riveted on an unsuspi 
cious people by standing armies. These lessons made a 
deep impression, and infused a distrust incompatible with 
enlarged schemes or energetic action. Thus it was, that 
the same ardor of patriotism, which impelled them to en 
counter every hazard, operated as a check to the only 
measures by which their object could be gained. 

Washington These misgivings were early discovered by Washington. 

thesuspi- He respected the motive, although he could not but la- 

cions of 

congress. ment its effects. Conscious, on his own part, of the high 
est purity of purpose, and harboring no latent thought, 
which was not directed to the best good of his country, 
if he felt wounded at this suspicion, he did not suffer it 
to appear in his conduct, nor to alter his opinion of the 
watchful guardians of the people's liberty. Example, he 
wisely thought, would be more regarded than complaint, 
more persuasive than words. If ability and courage are 
necessary in a commander, he soon saw, that, in his 
case at least, patience, forbearance, and fortitude, were not 
less so. 

His task in A regular army and a military system were to be creat- 

directingthe J J 

' a on sucn P rmc ipl es as would insure their stability 

country. and continuance. This great work was to be executed 
mainly by the Commander-in-chief. Congress might ap 
prove, sanction, and aid ; but it was his task to invent, 
combine, organize, establish, and sustain. To this end he 

jE-r. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 139 

kept up an unremitted correspondence with Congress dur- CHAPTER 

ing the whole war. His letters were read to the House -i. 

in full session, and almost every important resolution re 
specting the army was adopted on his suggestion or rec 
ommendation, and emanated from his mind. He was thus 
literally the centre of motion to this immense and com 
plicated machine, not more in directing its operations, than 
in providing for its existence, and preserving from de 
rangement and ruin its various parts. His perplexities 
were often increased by the distance at which he was 
stationed from Congress, the tardy movements of that 
body, and the long time it took to obtain the results of 
their deliberations. By a constant watchfulness and fore 
thought, and by anticipating the future in his communi 
cations, he contrived to lessen this inconvenience as far 
as it could be done. 

Besides his unceasing intercourse with Congress, he was corresponds 

iTi i , i i -i /. i wilh numer 

obliged to correspond with the heads of the provincial ous public 
governments, and afterwards with the governors and legis 
latures of the States, with conventions, committees, and 
civil magistrates. In these were really vested the execu 
tive powers of the confederated government. Congress 
recommended, advised, resolved ; they voted men and sup 
plies, assigning due proportions to the respective States ; 
here their autBority ceased. The rest was left to the will 
of the people, exercised through their representatives in 
the State legislatures. These bodies required the perpetual 
promptings of the Commander-in-chief, with forcible rep 
resentations of the weakness and wants of the army, and 
appeals to all the motives which could, stimulate patriot 
ism or touch the springs of interest. One advantage, how 
ever, attended these harassing relations, which might com 
pensate for so extraordinary a weight of care and respon 
sibility. They brought him into more direct contact with 
the sources of power, and enabled him to extend his in 
fluence, and the fruits of his wisdom, into channels where 
they were most needed, and would produce the best ef- 



[JET. 43. 



His firmness 
in resisting 
the calls of 
the States 
for a milita 
ry force. 

July 31. 

Opposes the 
project of a 
descent upon 
Nova Scotia. 

August 11. 

fects ; thus enlarging the compass of his own considera 
tion, and promoting public harmony and union. 

He had not been long in camp, when he was called 
upon to exercise his firmness in a manner, that for a mo 
ment threatened disagreeable consequences. The enemy's 
armed vessels were hovering on the coast, seizing small 
craft, and menacing towns on the seaboard. The inhab 
itants were alarmed, and claimed protection. The legis 
lature of Massachusetts and the governor of Connecticut 
applied to Washington with a formal request, that he would 
detach troops from the army for that purpose. To refuse 
this request was delicate ; to grant it, dangerous. In the 
former case, it would excite the clamors of the people and 
the dissatisfaction of their rulers ; in the latter, it would 
weaken the army so much, as to leave the camp exposed 
to a successful assault, and the country around Boston to 
insult and ravage. The army itself might be dispersed, 
and the hopes of the continent blighted in the bud. He 
did not hesitate. He declined, and stated his reasons in 
language so judicious and forcible, as to avoid giving of 
fence, and to blunt the edge of disappointment. This 
precedent was followed throughout the war. It was es 
tablished as a rule, that attacks of the enemy at isolated 
points along the coast must be repelled by the militia in 
the vicinity, except when the Continental army was in a 
condition to make detachments without jeoparding the 
general cause. 

There was a project on foot for an expedition from 
Maine against Nova Scotia, which some members of the 
Massachusetts legislature were disposed to aid. Washing 
ton discouraged it as inexpedient, if not improper. He 
said the inhabitants of Nova Scotia had committed no hos 
tilities, and that such an enterprise would be a measure 
of conquest rather than defence, which he conceived to 
be contrary to the principles upon which the colonies had 
hitherto acted. They had taken up arms to defend their 
liberties, and not to disturb the quiet of their neighbors. 


In such a step, also, there would be a risk of making CHAPTER 
enemies pf those, who were willing to be friends.* 

General Gage commanded the British troops in Boston. 1775. 
Prisoners had fallen into his hands on the eventful day General 
at Bunker's Hill, and he had seized other persons accus- mentor pris 
ed of disaffection to the King. These he had thrown Boston, 
indiscriminately into prison, no distinction being made 
between officers, soldiers, and citizens. The report went 
abroad that they were treated with great severity. Jus 
tice to his country, arid the calls of humanity, made it 
incumbent on Washington to remonstrate against such con 
duct. He wrote to the British general. The occasion 
awakened recollections of more than common interest. Just 
twenty years had elapsed since he and Gage fought side 
by side on the bloody battle-field of the Monongahela. 

* There was also a plan for engaging the eastern Indians in the 
Continental service, and agents were sent among them for that pur 
pose, but with very little success. During the former wars in America 
between the English and French, it had been customary on each side 
to solicit aid from the Indians, and employ them as auxiliaries. Such 
had been the uniform practice from the first settlement of the country, 
and it was to be presumed that the same system would be pursued in 
the Revolution. Considering the ferocity of these people, and the wild 
and savage manner in which they ^engaged in all the enterprises of 
war, it is no wonder that the policy of seeking their alliance, or even 
permitting their aid, should be regarded by every friend of humanity 
with unqualified reprobation. Writers of all parties have united in con 
demning a practice, so unjustifiable in itself, and so hostile to the prin 
ciples of civilization, while at the same time belligerents of all parties 
have continued to follow it, even down to the late war between Eng 
land and the United States. 

It has been usual in America to represent the English as much the 
most censurable on this score in the revolutionary war, and if we esti 
mate the amount of deserved censure by the effects produced, this opin 
ion is no doubt correct. But such is not the equitable mode of judging 
on the subject, since the principle and intention are chiefly concerned, 
and not the policy of the measure, nor the success of its execution. 
Taken on this ground, historical justice must award to the Americans 
a due share of the blame. Before the rencontre at Lexington and 
Concord, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts had enlisted in their 
service a company of minute-men among the Stockbridge Indians resid 
ing in that colony. 



[JEt. 43. 


August 11. 


CHAPTER An intimacy then subsisted between them, which was 

yn> cherished afterwards by a friendly correspondence. Far 

1775. different was the relation in which they now stood to 

each other, at the head of contending armies ; the one 

obeying the commands of his sovereign, the other uphold 

ing the cause of an oppressed people. 

Their letters were significant of the change. The re- 
monstrance of Washington, clothed in dignified but point- 
e d language, represented the impolicy as well as cruelty 
of ill treatment to prisoners, since it would impose upon 
him the necessity of retaliating, and there would be no 
end to the horrors of war, if such a system were pursued. 
General Gage denied the charge of harsh usage, and took 
credit to himself for his clemency in sparing persons, 
" whose lives by the law of the land were destined to 
the cord." As to difference of rank, he professed not to 
know any, which was not derived from the King. 

These principles set at nought all the rules of honor- 
able warfare, and indicated that the highest officers in the 

. ., i i i i i 

American army, if captured, would be treated as culprits. 
The only apparent remedy was retaliation. The prison 
ers in Washington's possession were immediately ordered 
into the country, and he gave directions that they should 
receive in every respect the same treatment, as was known 
to be practised on the unfortunate sufferers in Boston. 
Such was his first impulse ; but, however justified by the 
laws of war, he could not reconcile to himself an act, which 
should inflict punishment on innocent men for the folly 
or obduracy of a commander. The order was counter 
manded, while the prisoners were on the road to North 
ampton, the place of their destination ; and Colonel Reed, 
one of his aids-de-camp, wrote to the committee of the 
town, directing that the prisoners should be at liberty to 
go abroad on their parole. He added ; " The General 
further requests, that every other indulgence and civility 
consistent with their security may be shown to them, as 
long as they demean themselves with decency and good 
manners. As they have committed no hostility against 

ried into ef- 



the people of this country, they have a just claim to mild CHAPTER 
treatment ; and the General does not doubt, that your VII< 
conduct towards them will be such, as to compel their 1775. 
grateful acknowledgments, that Americans are as merciful 
as they are brave." 

In replying to General Gage's letter, Washington said ; Reply to 
" You affect, Sir, to despise all rank not derived from the cage's let 
same source as your own. I cannot conceive one more 

August 20 

honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted 
choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and 
original fountain of all power. Far from making it a 
plea for cruelty, a mind of true magnanimity and enlarged 
ideas would apprehend and respect it." The indiscretion 
and weakness of the British general's conduct admit of 
no defence ; yet it should be remembered, that he was 
taught by his superiors to look upon the asserters of liberty 
in America as rebels, and to treat them as such. Little 
can be said, however, in praise of his political sagacity, 
knowledge of human nature, or enlargement of mind. 

The army was soon augmented by the companies of companies 
riflemen from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, which join the ar- 
had been raised in compliance with a resolution of the 

Continental Congress. The companies were filled up with 
surprising quickness, and on their arrival in camp the 
numbers of several .of them exceeded the prescribed limit. 
Within two months from the time the orders were sent out, 
they had been enlisted and equipped, and had marched 
from four to seven hundred miles to the army at Cam 

General Washington had the satisfaction to find, also, Reinforce- 
that the reinforcements of militia, which he had request- muu 80 
ed from the New England governments to strengthen his 
camp, came 'in as expeditiously as could be desired. 

Before these accessions to his force, he had meditated Expedition 

,.,,,-, r c against Que- 

an enterprise, which held out a fair promise of success, bee. 
General Schuyler had been ordered by Congress to the 
command of the northern department on Lake Champlain, 
with instructions to take possession of St. John's, Mont- 


CHAPTER real, and other parts of Canada, if it should be found 
practicable and not displeasing to the inhabitants. This 
1775. step, it was foreseen, would draw General Carleton from 
Quebec, with all the troops he could collect, to defend 
the invaded frontiers. That city and fortress would thus 
be left an easy conquest ; as there was no probability that 
they could be reinforced from England before the winter 
would set in, and close the river with ice. If the main 
object of taking Quebec should not be attained, the at 
tempt would at least call back General Carleton for its 
protection, and open the southern borders of Canada to the 
incursions of the American troops. General Schuyler ap 
proved the enterprise, and agreed to act in concert. 

Troops de- The plan was carefully matured, and put into immedi- 
ate execution. General Washington detached eleven hun- 

sept 14. fa^ merij including three rifle companies, with orders to 
march into Canada, through the wilderness, by way of 
the Kennebec and Chaudiere Rivers, and then to act as 
circumstances might dictate. The command of the expe 
dition, regarded by Washington as " of the utmost con 
sequence to the interest and liberties of America," was 
intrusted to Colonel Arnold. This officer had lately re 
turned from Lake Champlain, where he had performed a 
conspicuous part with Ethan Allen in the capture of Ti- 
conderoga and Crown Point. His reputation for courage, 
energy, and military talents already stood high. 
Arnold's in- The instructions he received from the Commander-in 


chief were humane, politic, and peremptory. He was for 
bidden on any pretence to disturb the quiet or offend the 
prejudices of the Canadians, and ordered to respect their 
religious observances, to pay them liberally for such arti 
cles as he should want, and to punish with rigor any im 
proper acts of the soldiers towards them. He was to seek 
and annoy the British forces in Canada, but not to molest 
the people, or do any thing to alienate their good will 
from the American cause. 
Difficulties To detail the fortunes, sufferings, romantic incidents, 

and result of , 

and various results of this expedition, is not consistent with 



our present design. It is enough to say, that it was con- CHAPTER 
ceived on just principles, well conducted, and partially VIL 
successful. It was weakened on the route by the defec- 1775. 
tion and return of a colonel, with a large detachment, 
who assigned as a reason the want of provisions. In a 
little more than two months from the time he left Cam 
bridge, Arnold was encamped on the Plains of Abraham 
under the walls of Quebec, his effective strength being 
five hundred and fifty men. He summoned the town to 
surrender, but his force was too small to warrant an as 
sault. The other aim of the undertaking was effected. 
It caused a diversion of the enemy favorable to the opera 
tions of General Montgomery, who, at the head of the 
American army, entered Canada from Lake Champlain, 
took Montreal, and ultimately formed a junction with Ar 
nold near Quebec. 

The conduct of Arnold, in the management of the ex- Arnold's 

conduct ap- 

pedition, was approved by the Commander-in-chief, and proved, 
applauded by the country. He had overcome obstacles of 
the most formidable kind, sustained the fortitude of his 
men when sinking under incredible hardships from cold, 
hunger, and fatigue, and proved the confidence in his re 
sources and activity not to have been misplaced. 

The deficiency of powder in the camp at Cambridge Deficiency of 

Powder in 

continued to be a cause ol extreme anxiety to Washing- camp, 
ton. Small quantities were collected, but in no propor 
tion to the demand. What added to his concern was, 
that the enemy might discover his weakness on this ac 
count, and march out to attack him. In such an event, 
the whole army must inevitably be routed and dispersed. 
Secrecy was indispensable ; and consequently the people 
at large were as ignorant of his condition, as the enemy 
within their lines. Murmurs began to be audible that the 
army was inactive, and that a superiority of numbers 
might justify an attempt against the town. The subject octis. 
was referred to a council of general officers, who unani 
mously opposed such an experiment. A report next gain 
ed credit, that tenderness for the inhabitants of the town, 
19 p 



. 43. 



and skir 

of Congress 
go to the 

and reluctance to bum their houses and property, were 
motives for this forbearance. Congress, either participat 
ing this sentiment, or willing to hazard the consequences, 
hinted their wishes to the general by suggesting, that, 
"if he thought it practicable to defeat the enemy and 
gain possession of the town, it would be advisable to make 
the attack upon the first favorable occasion, and before 
the arrival of reinforcements, which Congress apprehended 
might soon be expected." Another council was called, 
a month after the above, to consider this suggestion, and 
again there was a unanimous voice against it. Whatever 
Washington's own opinion may have been, he was con 
strained to acquiesce in silence ; for it would have been 
highly imprudent to undertake such an enterprise, while all 
the officers were opposed to it, and his actual condition 
demanded concealment from the public. 

Occasional cannonades and skirmishes took place at the 
advanced points on the lines, but the enemy showed no 
disposition to leave their intrenchments. In fact, they 
never meditated an attack, unless reinforcements should ar 
rive. General Gage wrote to Lord Dartmouth, that such 
an attempt, if successful, would be fruitless, a.s there were 
neither horses nor carriages for transportation, and no other 
end could be answered than to drive the Americans from 
one strong-hold to another. 

The time was drawing near when it would be neces 
sary to form a new army. The Connecticut and Rhode 
Island troops were engaged to serve only till the beginning 
of December, and none beyond the end of that month. 
The attention of Congress had been called to the subject, 
and a committee of three members was appointed to re 
pair to the camp, and meet delegates from the New 
England colonies, for the purpose of devising the most 
effectual means of continuing, regulating, and supporting 
the Continental army. Franklin, Lynch, and Harrison 
were the committee, and they joined the delegates at Wash 
ington's head-quarters on the 18th of October. 

-Ex. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 147 

As the persons constituting this convention were un- CHAPTER 
skilled in military affairs, the plan proposed by General . 

Washington, which had been discussed and matured by a 
council of officers, was in the main adopted. It was con- Plan of & 

. new army. 

ceived, that, to give proper security, the American army 
ought to be numerically twice as large as that of the 
enemy in Boston. Twenty-six regiments, therefore, were 
assigned for the new organization, besides riflemen and ar 
tillery, each regiment being divided into eight companies. 
The whole number of men would then by estimate amount 
to twenty thousand three hundred and seventy-two. Many 
of those already on the ground, whose term of service 
was soon to expire, it was hoped would reenlist, and the 
deficiency was to be supplied by recruits from the coun 
try. The delegates supposed that thirty-two thousand 
men might be raised in the four New England colonies 
for one year, the period fixed by Congress for all the 

After the convention was dissolved, the committee from Articles of 

. . war revised, 

Congress continued to sit, and took various other subjects and otter re- 

gulations es- 

mto consideration. The articles of war underwent a re 
vision, and several changes were introduced, which ex 
perience had proved to be necessary. Regulations for 
disposing of prizes captured at sea, for the exchange of 
prisoners, the employment of Indians, and many local de 
tails relating to the army, came under notice, and certain 
definite rules were agreed upon. When the committee re 
turned to Congress, their proceedings were approved and 

This conference was of great service to the Commander- 
in-chief. It afforded an opportunity of expressing his sen 
timents with more freedom and fulness, than he could do 
by written communications. A system was likewise form 
ed for future operations in which he could confide, as 
both Congress and the eastern colonies were bound to sup 
port the measures agreed upon by their representatives. 

The next step was to organize the army according to 
the new arrangement, to appoint the colonels and inferior 


CHAPTER officers of the several regiments, and issue recruiting or 
ders. This was an affair of great delicacy and embarrass 
ment. It was in the highest degree important to retain 

New army as many of the men as possible, who were now in the 

ized. ranks ; and it was soon discovered, that very few would 

remain, unless they could ,know beforehand what officers 
they were to serve under, and could have all their par 
tialities gratified. Local considerations threw many ob 
stacles in the way. Care must be taken, that each colony 
should have its due proportion of officers, according to the 
number of men it was expected to furnish ; and that their 
rank should be so adjusted as to suit the caprices of 
some, and the extravagant claims of others. The task 
was formidable, but it was at last accomplished, and the 
recruiting began. 

Maritime In addition to the concerns of the army, Washington 

was obliged to bestow much time and attention on mari 
time affairs. No public vessels as yet belonged to the 
continent, nor had Congress made any provision for a na 
val warfare. While the British troops and the inhabitants 
of Boston were shut up within the limits of that town, 
and excluded from a direct intercourse with the country, 
it was necessary that all their supplies should come to 
them by water ; and the large number of vessels employed 
in this service suggested the idea of fitting out cruisers in 
the ports along the coast to capture them. Having no 
instructions to this effect, yet believing it compatible with 
the general design of annoying and distressing the enemy, 
Washington took on himself the responsibility of equipping 
and sending out armed vessels. Agents were employed 
in Salem, Beverly, Marblehead, and Plymouth, to procure 
and fit them out, and they were manned by officers and 
sailors from the army. His instructions to the captains 
were precise and guarded; and, that he might seem to 
act under the authority of his commission, he ordered 
them to "take command of a detachment of the army, 
with which they were to proceed on board, cruise against 
such vessels as were found in the service of the enemy, 

2Ex. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 149 

and seize all such as were laden with soldiers, arms, am- CHAPTER 

. . ,, VH. 

munition, or provisions." 

In a few weeks six armed schooners were under sail, 1775. 
cruising in the waters of Massachusetts Bay. Several Armed 

' schooners 

captures were made, and particularly a valuable one by 
Captain Manly, consisting of munitions of war. But, on 
the whole, the first enterprises were not crowned with 
signal success. Some of the officers proved incompetent, 
the men mutinied, and the management of the business 
in its details caused infinite trouble. The system was 
improved by degrees, other vessels were fitted out, and 
Congress provided prize-courts and regulations, which re 
sulted at length in the establishment of a Continental 
Navy. But General Washington was not relieved from 
this charge, till after the enemy evacuated Boston. 

One incident illustrative of his character should be here unjustifiable 

descent up- 

mentioned. Two armed vessels were despatched to the on the island 

of St. John's 

River St. Lawrence, with orders to intercept two brig- October 
an tines, which it had been understood wefe to sail from 
England to Quebec with arms and ammunition. Failing 
in this object, the captains made a descent upon the Is 
land of St. John's, pillaged the inhabitants, and brought 
some of them away prisoners. Whether this act was 
consistent or not with the customary rules of warfare, it 
was severely reprimanded by Washington, who imme 
diately set the prisoners at liberty, treated them with the 
greatest kindness, restored all the property that had been 
taken, and provided the best means in his power to send 
them back to their homes. * 

* Mr. Callback, President of the Council, and then acting as governor, 
was among the prisoners who were brought to the camp at Cambridge. 
In a letter, written by Governor Callbeck at the time of his departure, 
he said ; " 1 should ill deserve the generous treatment, which your Ex 
cellency has been pleased to show me, had I not gratitude to acknow 
ledge so great a favor. I cannot ascribe any part of it to my own 
merit, but must impute the whole to the philanthropy and humane dispo 
sition, that so truly characterize General Washington. Be so obliging, 
th ere fore, as to accept the only return in my power, that of my most 
grateful thanks." 



The burning of Falmouth, an act of personal malice 
and cruel wantonness on the part of a British naval offi- 
1775. ceFj an d the threats of the enemy that the same fate 
The burning should fall upon other seaport towns, produced consterna- 

ofFalmouth. . . ' 

tion, and the most pressing requests to General Washing- 
October 18. 

ton for assistance in powder, arms, and troops. Again he 

was compelled, by the necessities of his own situation, 
to withhold the relief so strenuously solicited. His sym 
pathies were keenly affected by their sufferings, and his 
popularity was jeoparded by the refusal ; yet in this case, 
as in all others, a stern sense of duty subdued his pri 
vate feelings and fortified his judgment. 

General When the news of the battle of Bunker's Hill reached 

called* the British cabinet, General Gage was recalled, " in order 
to give his Majesty exact information of every thing, and 
suggest such matters as his knowledge and experience of 
the service enabled him to furnish." In the dearly bought 
victory at Bunker's Hill he had made a discovery, which 
seems to have been not less astonishing to himself, than 
mortifying to the ministers. " The trials we have had," 
said he, in a letter to Lord Dartmouth, " show the rebels 
are not the despicable rabble too many have supposed 
them to be." In the opinion of the ministers this intel 
ligence showed likewise, that General Gage had been 
duped by ill advisers or his own ignorance, and that, 
either from obstinacy, want of address, or incapacity, he 
was not competent to the station he occupied. On the 
1st of October he was superseded in the command by 
General Howe. 

general^ The abilities of this officer were perhaps superior to 
Se n Bi!Ssh 0f t h se f n * s predecessor, but they did not grow by expe- 
army. rience in the public estimation. He possessed the ad van- 
October i. tage, however, of not having mingled in the exciting 
events, in which General Gage had acted such a part as 
to bring down upon him the ill will and reproaches of 
the people. General Howe was a brother of Lord Howe, 
who had been slain at Ticonderoga in the last war, and 
whose memory was ever cherished with warm affection 

&>r. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 151 

by the colonists. Hence he had nothing to contend against CHAPTER 
but the physical force, determined spirit, and political skill VIL 
of the Americans. Prejudices were in his favor, and no l 77 ^. 
antipathies existed. Unluckily he imbibed the idea, that 
he was quelling a rebellion, arid that a scrupulous regard 
to the rules of honorable warfare was not exacted in such 
a contest. It would be hard to blame him, perhaps, on 
this score, since he was only conforming to the spirit of 
his instructions ; yet a little more discernment in penetrat 
ing the actual state of things around him, a little more 
discretion and sagacity in adapting his conduct to circum 
stances, would have shown his character in a better light 
without diminishing the value of his services in the cause 
he was set to maintain. 

The enlistments in the new army went on slowly, siowpro- 
The dissatisfaction and cabals of the officers, the exacting enlistments 

for the new 

temper and undisciplined habits of the men, occasioned army, 
endless perplexities. General Washington felt intense anx 
iety. His patience and fortitude were tried in the sever 
est manner. A month's experiment had obtained only 
five thousand recruits. At one time he was flattered with 
promises, at another almost every gleam of hope was ex 
tinguished, till at length, when the term of service of the 
Connecticut troops was about to expire, it was ascertained 
that they would go off in a body, and leave a fearful 
blank in an army already deficient in numbers and weak 
ened by internal disorders. He appealed to every motive, 
which could stimulate their patriotism, pride, or sense of 
honor, but all in vain ; and it was with the greatest diffi 
culty, that he could persuade them to stay ten days lon 
ger, till the militia could be assembled to supply their 

Orders were issued for calling in the militia. By a orders issu- 
prudent foresight he had suggested to Congress the neces- ing m the 
sity of being intrusted with this authority, and it was 


granted in general terms. But here again a new trouble 
arose. The same spectre of military domination, which 
had from the first struck so much dread into the minds 

152 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [^Er. 43. 

CHAPTER of many persons, and had limited the existence of the 
vll> present army to one year, was still busy in spreading its 

1775. terrors, and tormenting its adversaries. If the Commander- 
in-chief could call out the whole force of the country at 
his option, where would be the bounds of his power, 
where the checks to soaring ambition, where the safe 
guard of the people's liberties ? Such questions were ask 
ed in a tone of triumphant confidence, implying that they 
could not be answered. Happily Congress put an end to 
them by a simple expedient. They amended their re 
solve, by making it incumbent on the Commander-in-chief 
to gain the consent of the executive authority of each 
colony, before he summoned its militia. In fact he had 
hitherto proceeded in this way, and probably always 
would have done so ; but this form of the resolve allay 
ed the fears of the alarmists, and was equally effectual.* 
When General Washington complained to Governor 

of the con- Trumbull of the extraordinary conduct of the Connecti- 

necticut t 

troops. cut troops, the latter replied ; " There is great difficulty 
December 2. to support liberty, to exercise government, and maintain 
subordination, and at the same time to prevent the opera 
tion of licentious and levelling principles, which many 
very easily imbibe. The pulse of a New England man 
beats high for liberty ; his engagement in the service he 
thinks purely voluntary ; therefore, when the time of en 
listment is out, he thinks himself not holden without fur 
ther engagement. This was the case in the last war. I 
greatly fear its operation amongst the soldiers of the other 
colonies, as I am sensible this is the genius and spirit of 
our people." Another consideration had great weight, per 
haps greater than all the rest. The men expected a 

* An incident is related as having occurred while he was in the Con 
vention for forming the Constitution, which was probably suggested by 
his experience during the war. A member proposed to introduce a 
clause into the constitution, limiting a standing army to Jive thousand 
men. Washington observed, that he should have no objection to such 
a clause, if it were so amended as to provide, that no enemy should 
presume to invade the United States with more than three thousand. 

A/r. 43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 153 

bounty. A soldier's pay did not satisfy them, as they CHAPTER 

could obtain better wages in other employments, without VIL . 

the fatigue and privations of a camp. Congress had de- 1775 - 
clared against bounties, and they could not be offered, 
unless the colonies should choose to do it individually on 
their own account. 

At the end of the year, when the old army was dis- state of the 

army at the 

solved, the whole number of the new establishment was end of the 


nine thousand six hundred and fifty. More than a thou 
sand of these men were absent on furloughs, which it 
had been necessary to grant as a condition of reenlist- 
ment. This result was peculiarly discouraging. "It is 
easier to conceive than describe," said General Washing 
ton, " the situation of my mind for some time past, and 
my feelings under our present circumstances. Search the 
volumes of history through, and I much question whether 
a case similar to ours is to be found ; namely, to maintain 
a post against the flower of the British troops for six 
months together, without powder, and then to have one 
army disbanded and another to be raised within the same 
distance of a reinforced enemy." His immediate safety, 
however, was secured by the addition of five thousand 
militia, who soon came in, and were to remain till the 
middle of January. And the advanced state of the sea 
son rendered it improbable that the enemy would under 
take sudden enterprises. 

When General Washington accepted the appointment of Mrs. wash- 
Congress, he supposed it would be in his power to visit B 
his family in the winter, and attend for a short space to 
his private affairs. This was found impracticable, or at 
least inconsistent with the duties of his charge ; and Mrs. 
Washington joined him at head-quarters in December, 
where she remained till the next spring. This was her 
practice daring the war. She passed the winters with 
her husband in camp, and returned at the opening of the 
campaigns to Mount Vernon. 

His large estates were consigned to the care of a su 
perintendent, Mr. Lund Washington, in whom he had 



. 43. 


His private 

Letter to his 
manager, di 
recting acts 
of hospital 

Dec. 26. 

confidence, and who executed the trust with diligence 
and fidelity. Notwithstanding the multitude of public con 
cerns, which at all times pressed heavily, and which he 
never neglected, the thoughts of General Washington con 
stantly reverted to his farms. In the midst of the most 
stirring and eventful scenes of the war, he kept up an 
unremitted correspondence with his manager, in which he 
entered into details, gave minute instructions, and exact 
ed in return frequent and full reports of the particulars 
relating to the culture of his lands, their products, the 
condition of the laborers, and every transaction of busi 
ness. From the beginning to the end of the Revolution, 
Lund Washington wrote to the General as often at least 
as two or three times a month, and commonly every 
week, detailing minutely all the events that occurred on 
the plantations, his purchases, sales, and payments of 
money, the kinds and quantity of produce, occupations of 
the laborers, and whatever else could tend to explain the 
precise condition and progress of the business in his hands. 
These letters were regularly answered by the General, 
even when the weight and embarrassment of public du 
ties pressed most heavily upon him, and full instructions 
were returned for regulating the plans and conduct of the 
manager. Hardly any copies of this description of letters 
were recorded, if retained, and the originals have been lost 
or destroyed. But Lund Washington's letters are preserv 
ed, and they give evidence of the extraordinary attention 
bestowed by the Commander-in-chief on his domestic af 
fairs, though several hundred miles from home, and bear 
ing a burden of public cares, which alone was enough to 
distract and exhaust the firmest mind. 

An extract from one of his letters on these topics will 
show a trait of character, and the footing on which he 
left his household at Mount Vernon. 

" Let the hospitality of the house, with respect to the 
poor, be kept up. Let no one go hungry away. If any 
of this kind of people should be in want of com, supply 
their necessities, provided it does not encourage them in 


idleness ; and I have no objection to your giving my CHAPTER 
money in charity, to the amount of forty or fifty pounds 

a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I mean 1775 
by having no objection is, that it is my desire that it 
should be done. You are to consider, that neither my 
self nor wife is now in the way to do these good offices. 
In all other respects, I recommend it to you, and have 
no doubt of your observing the greatest economy and fru 
gality; as I suppose you know, that I do not get a far 
thing for my services here, more than my expenses. It 
becomes necessary, therefore, for me to be saving at 



[JET. 43. 



Secret enter 
prise of Gen 
eral Howe. 

General Lee 
sent to take 
the com 
mand in 
New York. 

January 8. 


Plans for an Attack on Boston. Condition of the Army. Dorchester 
Heights fortified. Evacuation of Boston. Troops march to New York. 
Washington repairs to Congress. His Views in Regard to the State 
of the Country. Machinations of the Tories, and Measures taken to 
defeat them. Declaration of Independence. Arrival of Lord Howe, 
with Proposals for a Reconciliation with the Colonies. Mode of address-' 
ing Letters to Washington attempted by the British Admiral and Gen 
eral. Strength and Condition of the two Armies. Battle of Long Isl 
and. Remarks on the Battle. Impression made by it on the American 
Army and Public. 

TOWARDS the end of December it was ascertained, that 
General Howe was fitting out a part of his fleet in the 
harbor of Boston for some secret enterprise. Its destina 
tion could only be conjectured ; but the season of the 
year and other circumstances induced a belief, that an 
operation at the south was in view. Fears were enter 
tained, for New York, then in a defenceless condition, 
feeble from the timid counsels of its provincial Congress, 
awed by a British man-of-war, and distracted by the arti 
fices of Governor Tryon, whose presence and address had 
kept together on Long Island a formidable body of To 
ries, some concealed, others undisguised. 

No efforts were to be spared to prevent the enemy from 
gaining possession of so important a post as New York, 
which, with Hudson's River, opened a direct channel to 
Canada, through which an invading army might pass, to 
the great injury of the interior country, if not to the dis 
comfiture of the army in the northern department. In 
the present state of General Washington's forces, he could 
not send a detachment from camp. As the most promis 
ing scheme that offered, General Lee was despatched, 
with instructions from the Commander-in-chief to raise 
volunteers in Connecticut, hasten forward to New York, 
call to his aid other troops from New Jersey, put the city 

Mr. '43.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 157 

in the best posture of defence which his means would CHAPTER 

permit, disarm the Tories and other persons inimical to VIH ' 

the rights and liberties of America, and guard the forti- 1776. 
fications on Hudson's River. 

The duty was delicate in itself, and difficult in the General 


exedltlOn, requiring energy and firmness, tempered with tions 
a moderation seldom conspicuous in the character of Gen 
eral Lee. In this instance, however, he was judicious 
and successful. A committee from Congress met him at 
New York, by whose prudence his exuberant ardor was 
restrained, and who, by bracing up the civil authorities 
with a little more courage, brought about a cooperation 
favorable to vigorous measures. The alarm for the safety 
of New York was premature. The fleet from Boston, 
having on board several regiments under the command of 
General Clinton, sailed to North Carolina, in the prosecu 
tion of a plan previously formed in the British cabinet, 
at the recommendation of Governor Martin, for making a 
descent upon that colony. 

Meantime General Washington became more and more An attack on 
impatient to make an attack on Boston. He summoned commended, 
a council of officers on the 16th of January, to whom proved by * 

council of 

with strong arguments he urged the necessity of such an war. 
attempt before the enemy should be reinforced, and re- January is. 
quested their opinion. They agreed that the attack ought 
not to be deferred a moment after there should be a fair 
hope of its succeeding ; but, with the force then in the 
field, they believed it -impracticable. That his feelings 
were keenly affected by his situation, is apparent from 
the tone of a letter written at the time. " Could I have 
foreseen the difficulties, " said he, " which have come 
upon us; could I have known that such backwardness 
would have been discovered by the old soldiers to the 
service, all the generals upon earth should not have con 
vinced me of the propriety of delaying an attack upon 
Boston till this time." He alludes here to the soldiers of 
the first army, who had refused to enlist, arid gone home, 
in much greater numbers than he had anticipated. 



[-ffix 43. 



Call for 
thirteen re 
giments of 

News of the 
repulse at 

Want of 
powder and 

The new regiments were increasing very tardily. The 
time for which the five thousand militia engaged to serve 
had expired, and a few only could be prevailed upon to 
stay longer. Another call for militia was indispensable. 
Seven regiments were apportioned to Massachusetts, four 
to Connecticut, and two to New Hampshire. By the 
time these should come in, it was hoped the ice on the 
waters around Boston would be frozen hard enough to 
facilitate an assault on the town. 

Just at this moment arrived the news of the repulse 
at Quebec, and the death of General Montgomery, with 
an urgent request from General Schuyler, that three thou 
sand men should be immediately sent into Canada, as 
the smallest force necessary to retrieve the loss, and to 
sustain the cause in that colony. Such a detachment 
from Washington's army was impossible, without ruin to 
himself ; but, ever prompt to provide for exigencies and to 
act for the general good, he instantly applied to the gov 
ernments of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hamp 
shire to furnish each a regiment, which should continue 
in service one year, and march forthwith to Canada. To 
relieve these colonies from an increased burden, he allowed 
the three regiments to be taken from his last requisition, 
reserving ten for the main army. The proposal was well 
received, and the troops were raised and marched to Can 
ada during the winter. 

Besides the want of powder, which had at no time 
been supplied in any adequate quantity, the deficiency of 
arms threatened serious consequences. There were nearly 
two thousand men in camp without firelocks. Every ex 
pedient was tried to procure them, but with little effect. 
The New England governments had none to furnish. The 
militia, reluctant to part with their arms, carried them 
away when they returned home. Officers were sent into 
the country with money to purchase them. A few were 
obtained in this way, but not enough to arm all the men. 

Despondency was seldom known, perhaps never, to un 
settle the constancy or self-command of Washington. He 


seemed to gather new strength by resisting the pressure CHAPTER 
of difficulties thickening around him. Borne up by a _ VIII '_ 
conscious integrity, weighing well every act of his life, 1776. 
convinced of the justice of his cause, and habitually trust- Prospects of 
ing in the direction of an overruling Providence, his far- discourag- 
reaching mind looked steadily to the end, and he went 
onward, resolute in purpose, strong in hope. The events 
of the last six months, however, and the position in which 
he was now placed, could not but awaken anxious fore 
bodings, and touch his sensibility. He saw his own rep 
utation and the vital interests of his country in jeopardy. 
The means of rescuing the one from unmerited censure, 
and securing the other on a solid basis, were feeble, re 
mote, uncertain. The following is his language on the 
occasion, contained in a letter to a friend. 

"I know the unhappy predicament in which I stand; Letter to j - 
I know that much is expected of me ; I know, that, with 
out men, without arms, without ammunition, without any 
thing fit for the accommodation of a soldier, little is to 
be done j and, what is mortifying, I know that I cannot 
stand justified to the world without exposing my own 
weakness, and injuring the cause, by declaring my wants, 
which I am determined not to do, farther than unavoid 
able necessity brings every man acquainted with them. 
My situation is so irksome to me' at times, that, if I did 
not consult the public good more than my own tranquil 
lity, I should long ere this have put every thing on the 
cast of a die. So far from my having an army of twenty 
thousand men well armed, I have been here with less 
than half that number, including sick, furloughed, and 
on command, and those neither armed nor clothed as 
they should be. In short, my situation has been such, 
that I have been obliged to use art to conceal it from 
my own officers." 

As a contrast to this representation, proving the buoy 
ancy of his mind and his determined spirit under the 
heaviest depression, another passage is here quoted from 
the same letter. 



[JET. 44- 


His senti 
ments re 
specting the 
conduct of 
the British 

Proposes an 
assault on 

" With respect to myself, I have never entertained an 
idea of an accommodation, since I heard of the measures, 
which were adopted in consequence of the Bunker's Hill 
fight. The King's speech has confirmed the sentiments 
I entertained upon the news of that affair ; and, if every 
man was of my mind, the ministers of Great Britain 
should know, in a few words, upon what issue the cause 
should be put. I would not be deceived by artful dec 
larations, nor specious pretences ; nor would I be amused 
by unmeaning propositions j but, in open, undisguised, and 
manly terms, proclaim our wrongs, and our resolution to 
be redressed. I would tell them, that we had borne 
much, that we had long and ardently sought for recon 
ciliation upon honorable terms, that it had been denied 
us, that all our attempts after peace had proved abortive, 
and had been grossly misrepresented, that we had done 
every thing which could be expected from the best of 
subjects, that the spirit of freedom rises too high in us 
to submit to slavery. This I would tell them not under 
covert, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian 

By degrees the affairs of the army assumed a more 
favorable aspect. Owing to the mildness of the winter, 
little ice was formed till the middle of February, when 
it was sufficiently strong to enable the troops to march 
over it from Roxbury and Dorchester. The Commander- 
in-chief proposed to take advantage of this opportunity, 
and make an immediate assault on Boston. His opinion 
was overruled by a council of officers, much to his dis 
appointment and chagrin. " Though we had been waiting 
all the year," said he, " for this favorable event, the en 
terprise was thought too dangerous. Perhaps it was ; 
perhaps the irksomeness of my situation led me to under 
take more than could be warranted by prudence. I did 
not think so, and I am sure yet, that the enterprise, if it 
had been undertaken with resolution, must have succeed 
ed ; without it, any would fail." It was resolved, however, 
that active operations should commence, and that posses- 


sion should be taken of Dorchester Heights, which might CHAPTER 
possibly bring out the enemy to an engagement in that 
quarter, and thus, by dividing the forces in Boston, lead 1776. 
to a general attack. 

Speedy arrangements were made for executing this Dorchester 
plan, and the essential part of it was effected by a body en! lg 

of troops, who marched in the night under the command 
of General Thomas, gained the summit of the Heights 
without being discovered, and by great activity erected 
before morning such works, as would secure them against 
the enemy's shot. To divert the attention of General 
Howe, an incessant cannonade and bombardment upon the 
town had been kept up the two preceding nights, and 
during the same night, from Lechmere's Point, Cobble 
Hill, and Roxbury. 

As Dorchester Heights commanded the harbor, and also preparations 
Nook's Hill, from which the town could easily be annoyed 
by cannon and mortars, it was expected that the enemy 
would attempt to dislodge the American detachment, and 
that the scenes of Bunker's Hill would again be acted 
over. In anticipation of such an event, Washington pre 
pared to assault the town at the same time on the oppo 
site side. For this service four thousand chosen men 
were set apart, and put in two divisions, one under Gen 
eral Sullivan, the other under General Greene, the whole 
being commanded by General Putnam. At a concerted 
signal they were to embark in boats, near the mouth of 
Charles River, attended by three floating batteries, under 
the fire of which they were to land in the town, and 
then act according to circumstances and instructions given 
by signals. 

In the event there was no occasion for this attempt. General 

Y i i- < <~* i ** Howe detei- 

It was not the policy 01 General Howe, nor consistent mines to 

.,,.,. , . suspend of- 

with his designs, to bring on a general engagement. He fensive 
remained in Boston at his own discretion, it having been 
recommended to him by the ministry, several months be 
fore, to leave that place and repair to a southern port. 
Although he thought there were solid reasons against such 
21 Q* 



[JEr. 44 


The town 
spared from 
ravage by 
the tacit un 
of the two 

Boston evac 
uated by 
the British 

March 17. 

a step, yet he did not choose to sacrifice his men, or run 
hazards, while so much rested on his responsibility. But 
when the admiral told him, that, unless the Americans 
were dislodged from Dorchester Heights, the King's ships 
could not remain in the harbor, he consented to detach 
three thousand men under Lord Percy for that purpose. 
The execution of the plan was defeated by a furious 
storm, which came on while the troops were embarking. 
The next day he determined to suspend offensive opera 
tions and to evacuate the town. 

Washington had regarded this result as probable, and, 
having no other motive for tempting General Howe to an 
engagement, than that of forcing him from the town, it 
was of course accordant with his principles and his wishes, 
that it should be' done without bloodshed. His only aim, 
therefore, was to keep his posts strongly guarded, and 
his troops ready for action. Humanity and policy required, 
also, that the town should be saved, if possible, from the 
ravage and destruction to which it must inevitably be 
exposed by an assault. Apprehending such an issue, af 
ter the Americans had planted themselves on Dorchester 
Heights, the inhabitants obtained from General Howe a 
declaration, that the town should not be destroyed, unless 
the King's troops were molested during their embarkation. 
An informal message to this effect was forwarded to Wash 
ington by the selectmen of the town, but he declined 
taking any notice of it, as not being authenticated by the 
name of the British commander. This proceeding was 
enough, however, to produce a tacit understanding be 
tween the parties, and the troops were allowed to depart 
without molestation. The town was left uninjured, ex 
cept from the natural effects of having been so long occu 
pied by soldiers, and the disorders attending so hasty an 

Boston was evacuated on the 17th of March, and sev 
eral regiments commanded by General Putnam immediately 
entered it, and took possession of all the posts. It was 
found to be very strongly fortified. General Washington 


himself went into the town the next day, and was received CHAPTER 
with enthusiasm by the inhabitants. The legislature of V111 ' 
Massachusetts took an early opportunity to present to him 1776. 
an address, expressive of their respect and attachment, their 
obligations for the great services he had rendered to his 
country, and their thanks for the deference he had inva 
riably shown to the civil authorities. In reply he recip 
rocated their kind sentiments, congratulated them on the 
recent event, particularly as having been effected without 
the effusion of blood, but intimated, as to his own agency, 
that he had only done his duty, "wishing for no other 
reward, than that arising from a conscientious discharge 
of his important trust, and that his services might contri 
bute to the establishment of freedom and peace, upon a 
permanent foundation, and merit the applause of his coun 
trymen and every virtuous citizen." 

Congress were not backward in rendering a due tribute congress 

,.,.,, . award a vote 

to their Commander-in-chief. A unanimous vote of thanks of thanks 

. and a medal 

was conveyed to him in a letter, drafted by a committee to washing, 
expressly appointed for the occasion, and signed by the 
President. A gold medal was ordered to be struck, com 
memorative of the evacuation of Boston, and as an hon 
orable token of the public approbation of his conduct. * 
General Howe, with his army in seventy-eight ships 
and transports, sailed for Halifax. His effective force, 

* The medal, which was struck in Paris, from a die cut by Duvivier, 
contains on the obverse a head of Washington in profile, exhibiting 
an excellent likeness, and around it the inscription; 


On the reverse is the town of Boston in the distance, with a fleet in 
view, under sail. Washington and his officers are on horseback in the 
foreground, and he is pointing to the ships as they depart from the 
harbor. The inscription is 







Howe sails 
with his 
army to Hal- 

march for 
New York. 

March 18. 

takes com 
mand in 
New York. 

including seamen, was about eleven thousand men. More 
than a thousand refugees left Boston in his fleet.* By the 
adjutant's return, Washington's army, officers and men, 
amounted to twenty-one thousand eight hundred, of which 
number two thousand seven hundred were sick. The en 
listments had been more successful latterly than at first. 
There were also six thousand eight hundred militia, 
most of whom had been suddenly called in from the 
neighboring towns, to strengthen the lines in case of an 
attack on Boston. 

It was reported, while the troops were preparing to em 
bark, that they were destined for Halifax ; but, suspecting 
this to be given out by the British commander, as a feint 
to cover his real designs, and anxious for the safety of 
New York, General Washington called for two thousand 
militia from Connecticut, and one thousand from New 
Jersey, to be thrown into that city without delay, which, 
added to the force already on the spot, might oppose the 
landing of the enemy till his own troops could arrive. 
The day after the evacuation, he ordered five Continental 
regiments, the battalion of riflemen, and two companies 
of artillery to march under General Heath. They went 
by land to Norwich, and thence by water through the 
Sound. The whole army, except five regiments detained 
for the defence of Boston under General Ward, followed 
in divisions, pursuing the same route. Putnam was sent 
forward to take the command in New York ; Lee having 
been appointed by Congress to the southern department, 

* The following statement of the number and character of the refu 
gees, that left Boston with General Howe, is taken from the official 
return, made to the government, and now deposited in the public offices 
in London. Members of the council, commissioners, custom-house offi 
cers, and other persons who had been in some official station, one 
hundred and two; clergy, eighteen; persons from the country, one hun 
dred and five; merchants and other inhabitants of Boston, two hundred 
and thirteen ; farmers, traders, and mechanics, three hundred and eighty- 
two; total, nine hundred and twenty -four. All these returned their 
names on their arrival in Halifax. About two hundred others did not 
return their names. 

roceeds to 


and having hastened thither to watch the motions of CHAPTER 

General Clinton, who it was expected would make a de- _ ] 
scent somewhere on the coast at the south. 1776. 

The British fleet lingered ten days in Nantasket Road. Washington 

i-i pr 

and Washington could not venture to leave his post, nor 
indeed to order away all his army, till assured that the 
fleet had actually put to sea. When this was ascertain 
ed, he set off for New York, passing through Providence, 
Norwich, and New London. At Norwich he had an in 
terview with Governor Trumbull, who came there to meet 
him. On the 13th of April he arrived in New York. 
The divisions of the army, moving more slowly, did not 
unite in that place till some days later. 

It was soon evident, that General Howe had gone in inspects the 
another direction, and that no immediate danger was to prepares 
be apprehended from the enemy. The British armed ves- of defence. 
sels, hitherto remaining in the harbor, retired down to 
Sandy Hook, twenty-five miles from the city. The mili 
tia from Connecticut and New Jersey were discharged. 
The first task of the Commander was to inspect the 
works begun by General Lee, direct their completion, and 
prepare other means of defence. 

Affairs in Canada became every day more gloomy. The Affairs of 
unfortunate repulse at Quebec, the want of an efficient come more 
commander after the fall of the gallant Montgomery, the 
severity of the winter, and the deficiency of supplies, all 
contributed to dishearten the troops, diminish their strength, 
destroy discipline, and engender confusion. Reinforcements 
from England would certainly be in the River St. Law 
rence, as soon as the ice should break up. Congress, just 
ly fearing the consequences, requested Washington first to 
detach four regiments, and then six others, to act in the 
northern department. He approved this measure from the 
conviction, that the public interests would thus be served ; 
since no support could be obtained in Canada, except 
what was sent there, whereas at New York the militia 
on an emergency might be summoned from the surround 
ing country. 



. 44. 


visits Con 
gress at Phil- 

May 22. 

the vote of 
the Virginia 
for indepen 

May 31. 

The presence of General Washington being thought es 
sential at Congress, for the purpose of advising with them 
on the state of affairs, and concerting arrangements for 
the campaign, he repaired to Philadelphia, leaving the ar 
my in the command of General Putnam. On his way he 
examined Staten Island, and the opposite Jersey shore, 
with the view of determining the proper places for works 
of defence. He was absent fifteen days. He seems to 
have been disappointed and concerned at discovering di 
visions in Congress, which portended no good to the com 
mon cause. It was known, from the late proceedings in 
Parliament, that commissioners were coming out with pro 
posals of accommodation. In a letter to his brother, writ 
ten at Philadelphia, he speaks as follows. 

" I am very glad to find, that the Virginia Convention 
have passed so noble a vote, and with so much unanim 
ity. Things have come to such a pass now, as to con 
vince us, that we have nothing more to expect from the 
justice of Great Britain ; also, that she is capable of the 
most delusive arts ; for I am satisfied, that no commis 
sioners were ever designed, except Hessians and other for 
eigners ; and that the idea was ouly to deceive and throw 
us off our guard. The first has been too effectually ac 
complished, as many members of Congress, in short, the 
representation of whole provinces, are still feeding them 
selves upon the dainty food of reconciliation ; and, though 
they will not allow, that the expectation of it has any 
influence upon their judgment with respect to their prep 
arations for defence, it is but too obvious, that it has an 
operation upon every part of their conduct, and is a clog 
to their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things 
to be otherwise ; for no man, that entertains a hope of 
seeing this dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by 
commissioners, will go to the same expense and run the 
same hazards to prepare for the worst event, as he who 
believes, that he must conquer, or submit to unconditional 
terms, and the concomitants, such as confiscation, hang 
ing, and the like." 


The allusiovi, at the beginning of this paragraph, is to CHAPTER 

a recent vote of the Virginia Convention, recommending vm ' 

to Congress to declare the United Colonies free and inde- 1776. 

pendent States. The opinion, that it was time for this convinced 

that the as- 

decisive step to be taken, had been firmly rooted in the sumption or 

r . indepen- 

mind of Washington ever since he first saw the King's 

speech at the opening of Parliament, and understood from JJSeaca o1 * 
it the temper with which the British government was de- 
termined, at all events, to push its claims upon the col 
onies. From that moment his last hope of reconciliation 
vanished. He was convinced, that submission on terms 
too humiliating to be admitted, or a hard struggle, was 
the only alternative. From that moment, therefore, he 
believed the colonies ought to stand on the broad ground 
of independence. They could lose nothing by assuming 
such a position ; they had been driven to it by their ad 
versaries ; whether from weak counsels, obstinacy, or wil 
ful oppression, it was useless to inquire ; and, if they 
must yield at last, it was better to fall nobly contending 
for freedom and justice, than to sink back into servitude, 
branded with the reproach of degrading concessions. Suck 
being his sentiments, he was rejoiced at the spirit mani 
fested in so powerful a colony as Virginia, setting an ex 
ample which others were ready to follow, and leading 
to a union which would fix the thoughts and hearts of 
the people on a single object, encourage the desponding, 
strengthen the military arm, and give a new impulse to 
the whole country. 

Notwithstanding the hesitancy of some of the members Large major. 
of Congress, there was still a large majority for vigorous gress forvi g . 
action ; and, while he was there, they resolved to reinforce 
the army at New York with thirteen thousand eight hun 
dred militia, drawn from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New 
York, and New Jersey ; and a flying camp, of ten thou 
sand more, from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. 

On his return to New York, he lost no time in making Returns to 

, , New York. 

preparations to receive the enemy, whose fleet was now 
expected soon to approach the coast. Besides the burden 

168 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [jfcr. !<*. 

CHAPTER of his command, he was harassed with other difficulties. 

IIL Long Island, Staten Island, many parts of the interior, 

1776. and even the city itself, swarmed with disaffected persons, 

or Tories, who were plotting clandestine and dangerous 

plots of the schemes. Governor Tryon, the centre of motion to this 
fraternity, continued on hoard a vessel at the Hook, and 
had his emissaries abroad in every direction. The Pro 
vincial Congress, either distrustful of its powers, or too 
much contaminated with the leaven of disaffection in some 
of its members, was tardy to propose, and more tardy to 
execute, any plans for eradicating the mischief. Wash 
ington expostulated, reasoned, urged, till at length a se 
cret committee was appointed to take up and examine 
suspected persons. 

condition of This was a wide stretch of power, defensible only from 

the Tories as . . ,. . . 

to their po- the necessity 01 the case. A covert enemy is the worst 
tions. of all, as he forfeits honor and betrays friendship. That 

he is abetting what he thinks a good cause, is a poor 
plea for such treachery. Spies in all countries are pun- 
< ished with death. An enemy in disguise is a spy. Dif 
ference of opinion is not criminal, and there were doubt 
less many innocent Tories, who were loyalists in faith, 
but remained quiet. Yet, it is a question, how long such 
persons can be allowed to stand neuter in times of revo 
lution. They may go away ; but while their lives and 
property are protected by the actual government, they owe 
allegiance to it, and are bound to render positive service 
for its support. Such was the condition of the Tories. 
They were either criminal as enemies, tolerated as neu 
trals, or obliged to act as friends. At the beginning of 
the contest, the first class was much the most numerous, 
and there can be no controversy as to the kind of treat 
ment demanded in their case. 

Power of a P . Aware of the delicacy of this subject, Congress early 
Tories de- g passed a resolution, by which the power of apprehending 
the civil au - Tories was put into the hands of the civil authority of 

thorities. . J 

each colony. This was a wise and politic regulation. 
Much abuse and injustice might have followed, if the 


Continental officers had been permitted to arrest persons CHAPTER 
upon suspicion ; whereas the local civil authorities, with VIII> 
a full knowledge of characters and circumstances, might 1776. 
proceed with proper discrimination, and avoid confounding 
the innocent with the guilty. That there might not be 
a want of power to execute this business effectually, the 
conventions, assemblies, and committees were authorized 
to employ a military force from the Continental army, 
which, in such cases, was bound to act under their or 
ders. Many Tories were apprehended in New York and 
on Long Island ; some were imprisoned, others disarmed. 
A deep plot, originating with Governor Tryon, was de- scheme of 
feated by a timely and fortunate discovery. His agents to seize 
were found enlisting men in the American camp, and 
enticing them with rewards. The infection spread to a 
considerable extent, and even reached the General's guard, 
some of whom enlisted. A soldier of the guard was 
proved guilty by a court-martial, and executed. It was 
a part of the plot to seize General Washington and con 
vey him to the enemy. 

On the 28th of June, a part of the British fleet from British fleet 
Halifax arrived at the Hook. The remainder followed New York. 
within a Aveek, and General Howe established his head- June as. 
quarters at Staten Island. An immediate attack was ex 
pected ; but such was not the purpose of General Howe. 
A fleet from England was on its way to join him, under 
the command of his brother, Lord Howe, the bearer of 
proposals from the ministry for an accommodation, the 
effect of which was to be tried before hostilities should 
be renewed. 

Whilst the enemy was thus gathering strength at the Declaration 
door of New York, and in sight of the American troops, 

General Washington received from Congress the Decla 
ration of Independence. At six o'clock in the evening, 
the regiments were paraded, and the Declaration was 
read aloud in the hearing of them all. It was greeted 
with the most hearty demonstrations of joy and applause. 
" The General hopes," said the orders of the day, "that 
22 R 



[/Ex. 44 


British ships 
sail up Hud- 
sou's River. 

July 12. 

Lord Howe 
arrives at 
Staten Is 
land, and 
terms of con 

this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to 
every officer and soldier to act with fidelity and courage, 
as knowing, that now the peace and safety of his country 
depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms, 
and that he is now in the service of a state possessed of 
sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to 
the highest honors of a free country." The United Col 
onies of North America were declared to be Free and In 
dependent States, and from that day the word colonies is 
not known in their history. 

As the Americans had no armed vessels in the harbor, 
General Howe ventured upon the experiment of sending 
two ships, one of forty and the other of twenty guns, 
with three tenders, up Hudson's River. Taking advan 
tage of a brisk and favorable breeze, they passed the 
batteries at New York and Paulus Hook without being 
checked, or apparently injured, the men on the decks 
being protected by ramparts of sand-bags. The vessels as 
cended to a part of the river, called Tappan Sea, where 
the breadth cf the water secured them against molestation 
from the land. General George Clinton then had com 
mand of the New York militia. He called out three regi 
ments, and stationed them at different points on the banks 
of the river, particularly in the Highlands, to defend those 
passes and prevent the enemy from penetrating beyond 
them. But in reality the British general's only objects 
were, to cut off the communication by water between 
Washington's army and Canada, and between the city and 
country, thereby obstructing supplies ; to give countenance 
to the Tories ; and to take soundings in the river. The 
vessels were absent from the fleet five weeks, during 
which time one of the tenders was burnt by a fire-ship 
sent among them by a party of Americans. 

Lord Howe joined his brother at Staten Island before 
the middle of July. While at sea, he had written a 
circular letter to the late royal governors in the colonies, 
presuming them to be still in power, accompanied by a 
Declaration setting forth his authority as commissioner 


from the King, and the terms proposed for a reconciliation. CHAPTER 

These papers were put on shore by a flag at Amboy, VI1L 

whence they came to the hands of General Washington, 1776. 

who enclosed them to the President of Congress. The 

terms amounted to nothing more than a promise of pardon 

and favor to those, who should return to their allegiance 

and assist in restoring public tranquillity. The papers 

were ordered to be published by Congress, that the peo 

ple might know, as stated in the order, what they had 

to expect from the court of Great Britain, and "be con 

vinced that the valor alone of their country was to save 

its liberties." Lord Howe's arrival at so late a day, being 

after the declaration of independence, was regarded by 

him as a circumstance unfavorable to the success of his 

mission ; but the truth is, the proposition he brought out 

would not at any time have been listened to, as affording 

a reasonable ground of reconciliation. It left untouched 

all the original causes of complaint. To suppose the min 

istry had any other hope of this measure, than what was 

derived from the prowess of their formidable army and 

fleet, would be a severe reflection upon their common in 

telligence and wisdom. The Americans believed it to be 

an attempt to amuse, deceive, and disunite them ; and, by 

a natural reaction, it tended to increase their efforts and 

bind them more closely together. 

The day before the above papers were landed at Amboy, intercourse 
Lord Howe despatched a letter to General Washington by Washington 
a flag, which was detained in the harbor by the guard- Howe. 
boats, till the General's orders should be known. He had 
previously determined to decline receiving any letter from 
the British commanders, not directed to him in his public 
character. Colonel Reed, adjutant-general of the army, 
went down to meet the flag, with instructions to that 
effect. The officer, who had charge of the flag, showed 
him a letter directed " To George Washington, Esq.", 

which he said was from Lord Howe. It was, of course, (SIS' 8 " 
declined. The officer expressed regret, said the letter was July 14. 
important, and rather of a civil than military nature, and 


CHAPTER at last inquired in what manner Mr. Washington chose to 
VIIL be addressed. Colonel Reed replied, that his station was 
1776. W ell known, and that no doubts could properly exist on 
that point. They separated, and the flag returned with 
the letter to the fleet. In mentioning this incident to 
Congress, Washington said, " I would not upon any occa 
sion sacrifice essentials to punctilio ; but in this instance, 
the opinion of others concurring with my own, I deemed 
it a duty to my country and my appointment, to insist 
upon that respect, which, in any other than a public 
view, I would willingly have waved." The course he 
had taken was highly approved by Congress, and a re 
solve was passed, that in future no letters should be re 
ceived from the enemy, by commanders in the American 
army, which should not be directed to them in the char 
acters they sustained. 

coionei As occasional intercourse between the chiefs of the two 


arm i es was necessary, for the purpose of treating about 

t ne exchange of prisoners and other matters, General 
juiy 20. Howe wrote to Washington a few days afterwards, repeat 
ing the same superscription. This letter was likewise re 
fused. He then sent Colonel Paterson, adjutant-general 
of the British army, who was admitted to an interview 
with the American commander, and produced a letter di 
rected " To George Washington, Esq. fyc. fyc. fyc." Col 
onel Paterson used the title of " Excellency " in addressing 
him, and said, " that General Howe much regretted the 
difficulties, which had arisen respecting the address of the 
letter to General Washington ; that it was deemed consis 
tent with propriety, and founded upon precedents of the 
like nature by ambassadors and plenipotentiaries, when 
disputes or difficulties of rank had arisen ; that Lord Howe 
and General Howe did not mean to derogate from the 
respect or rank of General Washington ; and that they 
held his person and character in the highest esteem." 
tecHneTnot Washington replied, " that a letter directed to a person 
withTpro d - m a P u klic character should have some description or in- 
er address, dication of it, otherwise it would appear a mere private 

. 44.] 



letter : and that he should absolutely decline any letter CHAPTER 
directed to him as a private person, when it related to his vm ' 
public station." After a good deal of conversation on this 1776. 
subject, and also on the particulars supposed to be con 
tained in the letter, Colonel Paterson was introduced to 
several of the general officers of the American army, and 
then took his leave. In giving an account of this con 
ference to the ministry, General Howe observed, " The 
interview was more polite than interesting ; however, it 
induced me to change my superscription for the attainment 
of an end so desirable ; and in this view I flatter myself 
it will not be disapproved." From that time all letters 
addressed by the British commanders to General Wash 
ington bore his proper titles. * 

* On the 30th of July, Colonel Palfrey, paymaster-general of the 
array, went on board Lord Howe's ship with another gentleman, to 
negotiate an exchange of prisoners, who had been taken at sea in a 
vessel called the Yankee Hero. In a letter to the President of Con 
gress, Colonel Palfrey said ; 

"We were treated with the utmost politeness and civility by Lord 
Howe. He spoke with the highest respect of General Washington, and 
lamented the nice distinctions, which, he said, prevented his addressing 
him by letter; and said he wished to convey his sentiments to him in 
any mode of address, that might prevent his being blamed by the 
King, his master. In all his discourse he called him General Wash 
ington, and frequently said, the States of America. He said the Con 
gress had greatly hurt his feelings by reminding him, in one of their 
publications, of the esteem and respect they had for the memory of 
his brother, and drawing by manifest inference a contrast between 
the survivors and the deceased ; that no man could feel more sensibly 
the respect shown to their family, than his Lordship and the General ; 
that they should always esteem America for it, and particularly Mas 
sachusetts Bay; and added, 'I hope America will one day or other 
be convinced, that, in our affection for that country, we also are HOWES.' 
His Lordship, when speaking of his brother, was greatly affected, and 
I could perceive a tear standing in his eye. 

"He hinted an inclination, that I should take the letter to General 
Washington, with the addition of <fyc. fyc. ty-c.,' which he said would 
imply every thing that we could desire, and at the same time save 
him from censure. I gave him to understand, that, as it had been 
before refused under the same circumstances, I could not with pro 
priety receive it, especially as it was against the express direction of 



. 44 



tions on 
New York 

Strength of 
the British 

General' Howe remained two months at Staten Island, 
waiting for reinforcements, before he commenced the op 
erations of the campaign. This period was employed by 
Washington in strengthening his works on New York 
Island. A fort was begun at the north part of the isl 
and, on a hill not far from the east bank of the Hudson, 
which was called Fort Washington ; and another nearly 
opposite to it on the other side of the river, in New Jer 
sey, at first called Fort Constitution, and afterwards Fort 
Lee. Between these forts the river's channel was ob 
structed by hulks of vessels and chevaux-de-frise. Batter 
ies were erected on the margins of the North and East 
Rivers, redoubts were thrown up at different places, the 
grounds near Kingsbridge were fortified, and the whole 
island was put in as good a state of defence, as the time 
and circumstances would permit. Plans were concerted 
for attacking the enemy on Staten Island by parties from 
the Jersey shore ; but the want of' boats and other obsta 
cles rendered these plans abortive. A general attack was 
thought unadvisable, as putting too much at hazard, while 
the enemy occupied an island protected on every side by 
their fleet. 

By the middle of August the British reinforcements had 
all arrived. General Howe's strength then consisted of his 
own army from Halifax, additional troops from England, 
Hessians, several regiments from the West Indies and the 
Floridas, the detachments on board Sir Peter Parker's 
squadron, under Clinton and Cornwallis, returned from 
their signal repulse at Sullivan's Island, and such men as 
Lord Dunmore had brought with him from Virginia. The 
aggregate of these forces was probably somewhat above 
twenty-four thousand men. It has been estimated as high 

Congress. When we parted, he desired his compliments to General 

The brother, here alluded to, was the gallant Lord Howe, who was 
killed near Ticonderoga in the year 1758. The province of Massachu 
setts Bay appropriated money for erecting a monument to him in 
Westminster Abbey. 


as thirty thousand. The fleet was numerous and well CHAPTER 
equipped ; and the whole armament, for both the land and XHi 
sea service, was supplied with all kinds of military stores. 

To meet these formidable preparations, General Wash- f^JJJJjJf 
ington's army, according to a return made out on the 3d caQ army. 
of August, including officers and men of every descrip- Augusts, 
tion, amounted nominally to twenty thousand five hun 
dred and thirty-seven. Of these, three thousand six hun 
dred and sixty-eight were sick, ninety-seven absent on 
furlough, and two thousand nine hundred and forty-six on 
command, leaving only eleven thousand one hundred, be 
sides officers, present fit for duty. Many of these were 
militia, suddenly called from their homes, unaccustomed 
to arms and to the exposure and hardships of a camp. 
The season of the year and the want of tents occasioned 
much sickness. Even this small army was greatly divid 
ed, being stationed at many points, from Brooklyn to 
Kingsbridge, over a space of more than fifteen miles in 

At this critical time there began to be collisions in the Dissensions 
army, threatening serious consequences. Collected from [ |' m and 
various parts of the country, and coming together with mander's &t- 
local partialities, the officers yielded to a spirit of jealousy, check them. 
and even gave vent to disrespectful language, which pro 
duced irritation and discord. The example was naturally 
followed by the soldiers. To check at the outset a symp 
tom so dangerous, the Commander-in-chief resorted to per 
suasion and reprimand. In the orders of the day he said ; 
" The General most earnestly entreats the officers and sol 
diers to consider the consequences ; that they can no way 
assist our enemies more effectually, than by making divis 
ions among ourselves ; that the honor and success of the 
army, and the safety of our bleeding country, depend up 
on harmony and good agreement with each other ; that 
the provinces are all united to oppose the common ene 
my, and all distinctions sunk in the name of an Ameri 
can. To make this name honorable, and to preserve the 
liberty of our country, ought to be our only emulation ; 



. 44. 



An attack 

Militia call- 
ed out. 

troops land 
on Long Isl 

August 22. 

and he will be the best soldier and the best patriot, who 
contributes most to this glorious work, whatever his sta 
tion, or from whatever part of the continent he may come. 
Let all distinctions of nations, countries, and provinces, 
therefore, be lost in the generous contest, who shall be 
have with the most courage against the enemy, and the 
most kindness and good humor to each other. If there 
be any officers or soldiers so lost to virtue and a love of 
their country, as to continue in such practices after this 
order, the General assures them, and is authorized by 
Congress to declare to the whole army, that such persons 
shall be severely punished and dismissed from the service 
with disgrace." This timely and energetic appeal did not 
pass unheeded, but it was long before entire harmony sub 
sisted among all parts of the army. Nor indeed was it 
ever so firmly established, that caution was not necessa 
ry to keep the troops of each State as much as possible 
together, and under general officers from the State to 
which they belonged. 

An attack from the enemy was daily expected. As the 
waters around New York were accessible to the fleet and 
small craft, General Howe could land at such places as 
he chose, and every point was therefore to be guarded. 
Meantime the American army gradually gained strength. 
The Convention of New York called out the militia of 
four counties. About three thousand assembled, and formed 
an encampment under General George Clinton near Kings- 
bridge. Three thousand came from Connecticut. Two bat 
talions of riflemen from Pennsylvania, one from Maryland, 
and a regiment from Delaware, likewise joined the army. 

Intelligence at length arrived, that the British troops 
were landing on Long Island, between the Narrows and 
Sandy Hook. It was then apparent, that they designed 
to approach the city across Long Island, and not to at 
tempt an immediate bombardment. Anticipating this move 
ment, Washington had at an early day posted a body of 
troops at Brooklyn, on "a part of Long Island opposite to 
the city of New York, and separated from it by the East 


River. This position was well secured on the land side CHAPTER 
by a chain of intrenchments and redoubts, running along 
the high grounds from Wallabout Bay to Gowan's Cove; 1776. 
these works having been constructed under the eye of 
General Greene. It was defended on the water side by Defences on 
batteries at Red Hook, Governor's Island, and other points. 
Between Brooklyn, and the place where the enemy land 
ed, was a range of hills covered with a thick wood, and 
crossed by three roads The precaution had been taken to 
throw up breastworks at the principal passes on these hills, 
where three or four regiments were stationed. General 
Greene at first commanded on Long Island, but falling ill 
with a fever, he was succeeded for a short time by Gen 
eral Sullivan. The command at length devolved on Gen 
eral Putnam. 

The British army occupied the plain on the other side Battle of 
of the hills, extending in a line from the Narrows to Flat- 
bush. General Grant commanded the left wing near the AugU8t 27 * 
coast, De Heister the centre, composed of Hessians, and 
Clinton the right. About three o'clock in the morning, 
on the 27th of August, a report was brought to the camp, 
that the British were in motion on the road leading along 
the coast from the Narrows. A detachment under Lord Lord stir- 


Stirling was immediately ordered out to meet them. Gen 
eral Sullivan was sent to the heights above Flatbush, on 
the middle road. One regiment only was at this post ; 
and a little to the north of it, on the Bedford road, were 
two others. Meantime General Clinton, with Earl Percy 
and Cornwallis, led the right wing of the British army x 
by a circuit into the Jamaica road, which was not guard 
ed, and gained the rear of the Americans under Sullivan. 
Before this was accomplished, reinforcements had been sent 
from the camp to support both Sullivan and Stirling. 
The attack was begun at an early hour by Grant and 
De Heister, but was kept up with little spirit, as they 
were not to advance till Clinton should reach the left 
flank or rear of the Americans. As soon as it was known, 
by the sound of the guns, that this was effected, they 



[JEr. 44 


General Sul 

issue of the 

Retreat from 

August SO. 

pushed vigorously forward, and the action became gener 
al and warm in every part. The troops under Lord Stir 
ling, consisting of the Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Dela 
ware regiments, fought with signal bravery, contesting 
every foot of ground against a greatly superior force, till 
Lord Cornwallis, with a detachment from Clinton's divis 
ion, came upon their rear, brought them between two 
fires, and compelled them to retreat within their lines 
across a creek and marsh near Gowan's Cove. General 
Sullivan, with the regiments on the heights above Flat- 
bush, being attacked by De Heister on one side and Clin 
ton on the other, after making an obstinate resistance for 
three hours, was obliged to surrender. As the grounds 
were broken and covered with wood, the action in this 
part was conducted by a succession of skirmishes, and 
many of the troops forced their way through the enemy 
and returned to Brooklyn. After the battle was over, 
General Howe encamped his army in front of the Ameri 
can lines, intending to carry them by regular approaches 
with the cooperation of his fleet. 

The issue of the day was disastrous to the Americans. 
Their loss was between eleven and twelve hundred men, 
more than a thousand of whom were captured. General 
Sullivan and Lord Stirling were among the prisoners. 
The whole number engaged was about five thousand, 
who were opposed by at least fifteen thousand of the en 
emy, well provided with artillery. That so many escap 
ed, was owing to the nature of the ground, and to the 
action having been fought in detached parties, some of 
which were several miles distant from each other. The 
courage and good conduct of the troops, particularly those 
under Lord Stirling, were universally acknowledged. 

During the action General Washington crossed over to 
Brooklyn. He is said to have witnessed the rout and 
slaughter of his troops with the keenest anguish, as it 
was impossible to detach others to their relief without ex 
posing the camp to imminent danger. A heavy rain the 
next day kept the main body of the enemy in their tents. 


Light parties came out, and there was occasional skir- CHAPTER 
mishing near the lines. A strong head wind prevented 
the ships from ascending the harbor. The loss sustained 
in the late action, the injury which the arms and am 
munition had received by the rains, the great force of 
the enemy, and the probability that the ships would take 
advantage of the first favorable wind, sail into the East 
River, and thus cut off the only channel of retreat, ren 
dered it obvious, that any further attempt to maintain the 
post at Brooklyn would be hazardous in the extreme. It 
was known, also, that some of the British ships had pass 
ed round Long Island, and were now in Flushing Bay ; 
and there were indications, that it was General Howe's 
design to transport a part of his army across the Sound, 
and form an encampment above Kingsbridge. This would 
put New York Island in jeopardy, and the forces at Brook 
lyn would be essential for its defence. A council of war 
was called. No time was lost in deliberation. It was 
resolved to withdraw the troops from Long Island. Boats 
were collected and other preparations were made without 
delay. On the morning of the 30th, the whole army, 
amounting to nine thousand men, the military stores, near 
ly all the provisions, and the artillery, except a few heavy 
cannon, were safely landed in New York. With such 
secrecy, silence, and order, was every thing conducted, 
that the last boat was crossing the river, before the re 
treat was discovered by the enemy, although parties were 
stationed within six hundred yards of the lines. 

This retreat, in its plan, execution, and success, has been 
regarded as one of the most remarkable military events in 
history, and as reflecting the highest credit on the talents 
and skill of the commander. So intense was the anxiety 
of Washington, so unceasing his exertions, that for forty- 
eight hours he did not close his eyes, and rarely dis 
mounted from his horse. 

There have been various strictures on this battle, both Remarks on 
in regard to the action itself, and to the policy of Wash- Long island, 
ington in attempting to oppose the enemy at all on Long 



[JET. 44. 



Policy and 
design of 
in conduct 
ing the cam 

Island. The strange oversight in leaving the Jamaica road 
unguarded, and the neglect in procuring early and con 
stant intelligence of the movements of the British army, 
were the immediate causes of the deplorable events of 
the day. These faults, however, such as they were, rested 
with the officers on the Island. General Washington had 
given express instructions, that the strictest vigilance should 
be observed in every part of the outer lines. It was un 
fortunate that the illness of General Greene deprived the 
commander on the spot of his counsel, he being thorough 
ly acquainted with the grounds and the roads ; whereas 
General Putnam took the command only four days before 
the action, and of course had not been able from personal 
inspection to gain the requisite knowledge. The want of 
vedettes was another unfortunate circumstance. To com 
municate intelligence with sufficient celerity over so wide 
a space, without light-horse, was impracticable. At this 
time, however, not a single company of cavalry had been 
attached to the American army. 

As to the other point, the propriety of maintaining -a 
stand on Long Island, it must be considered, that the 
enemy was to be met somewhere, that the works at 
Brooklyn oifered a fair prospect of defence for a consid 
erable time at least, that the abandonment of the Island 
would open a free passage to General Howe to the very 
borders of New York, separated only by the East River, 
and that to retreat, without even a show of resistance, 
as the first operation of the campaign, would be unsatis 
factory to Congress, the country, and the army. Besides, 
it was not the purpose of Washington to entice the enemy 
to a general action, or allow himself to be drawn into 
one, if it could possibly be avoided. Such an experiment, 
with his raw troops and militia, against a force superior 
in numbers, and still more so in experience and disci 
pline, aided by a powerful fleet, he well knew would be 
the height of rashness, and might end in the total ruin 
of the American cause. Wisdom and prudence dictated a 
different course. To wear away the campaign by keeping 


the enemy employed in small encounters, dividing their CHAPTER 
attention, and interposing obstacles to their progress, was ^ 
all that could be done or undertaken with any reasonable I"*"** 
hope of success. Such a system would diminish the re 
sources of the enemy, habituate his own soldiers to the 
practices of war, give the country an opportunity to gath 
er strength by union and time, and thus prepare the way 
for more decisive efforts at a future day. This policy, 
so sound in its principles, and so triumphant in its final 
results, was not relished by the shortsighted multitude, 
eager to hear of battles and victories, and ready to ascribe 
the disappointment of their wishes to the fault of the 
General. The murmurs and complaints of such persons, 
though so loudly and widely expressed that they might 
be taken as denoting the public sentiment, were borne 
with fortitude by Washington ; nor did he suffer himself 
to be turned by them from what he believed to be his 
duty in watching over the vital interests of his country. 

The recent defeat produced a most unfavorable im- Effect of the 
pression upon the army, which is described as follows on the army, 
in a letter from General Washington to the President of September 2. 

" Our situation is truly distressing. The check our de 
tachment sustained on the 27th ultimo has dispirited too 
great a proportion of our troops, and filled their minds 
with apprehension and despair. The militia, instead of 
calling forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly 
opposition in order to repair our losses, are dismayed, in 
tractable, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them 
have gone off; in some instances, almost by whole regi 
ments, *by half ones, and by companies at a time. This 
circumstance, of itself, independent of others, when front 
ed by a well appointed enemy, superior in number to our 
whole collected force, would be sufficiently disagreeable ; 
but, when their example has infected another part of the 
army, when their want of discipline, and refusal of almost 
every kind of restraint and government, have produced a 
like conduct but too common to the whole, and an entire 


182 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [.Ex. 44. 

CHAPTER disregard of that order and subordination necessary to the 
VIIL well-doing of an army, and which had been inculcated 
1776. before, as well as the nature of our military establish 
ment would admit of, our condition becomes still more 
alarming ; and, with the deepest concern, I am obliged 
to confess my want of confidence in the generality of 
the troops. 
Necessity of " All these circumstances fully confirm the opinion I 

a. permanent i-i-r 

standing ar- ever entertained, and which I more than once in my let- 


ters took the liberty of mentioning to Congress, that no 
dependence could be put in a militia or other troops than 
those enlisted and embodied for a longer period than our 
regulations heretofore have prescribed. I am persuaded, 
and as fully convinced as I am of any one fact that has 
happened, that our liberties must of necessity be greatly 
hazarded "if not entirely lost, if their defence is left to 
any but a permanent standing army ; I mean, one to exist 
during the war. Nor would the expense, incident to the 
support of such a body of troops, as would be competent 
to almost every exigency, far exceed that, which is daily 
incurred by calling in succor and new enlistments, which, 
when effected, are not attended with any good consequen 
ces. Men, who have been free and subject to no control, 
cannot be reduced to order in an instant ; and the privi 
leges and exemptions, which they claim and will have, 
influence the conduct of others ; and the aid derived 
from them is nearly counterbalanced by the disorder, ir 
regularity, and confusion they occasion." 
Number of He added, that, by the last returns, the number of 

troops fit for J 

duty. troops fit for duty was less than twenty thousand, and 

that many had since deserted. One thousand men were 
immediately ordered to join him from the Flying Camp, 
then in New Jersey under General Mercer. A bounty of 
ten dollars had been offered to each soldier, that would 
enlist into the Continental service ; but this produced little 
effect, as the bounty to the militia was in some instances 
double that amount. " Till of late," he observes, " I had 
no doubt of defending New York j nor should I have yet, 


if the men would do their duty ; but this I despair of. CHAPTER 
It is painful to give such unfavorable accounts ; but it 
would be criminal to conceal the truth at so critical a 1776. 
juncture. Every power I possess shall be exerted to serve 
the cause ; and my first wish is, that, whatever may be 
the event, the Congress will do me the justice to think 
so." In such a situation a more gloomy or discouraging 
prospect could hardly be imagined. No trials, however, 
in a good cause, could depress the mind or unnerve the 
energy of Washington. 



. 44. 


New York evacuated, and the British take Possession of the City. The 
American Army posted at Haerlem Heights and Fort Washington. Sit 
uation and Prospects of the Army. Its new Organization. The British 
land in Westchester County, and march into the Country. Washington 
advances to White Plains and forms an Encampment. Battle of Chat- 
terton's Hill. Part of the American Army crosses the Hudson. Cap 
ture of Fort Washington and Fort Lee. General Washington retreats 
through New Jersey, and crosses the Delaware at Trenton. Conduct 
and Character of General Lee. Reduced State of the Army. Rein 
forced by Troops from Ticonderoga. General Washington invested with 
extraordinary Powers by Congress. His Manner of using them. He 
recrosses the Delaware. Battle of Trenton. Battle of Princeton. 
The Army goes into Winter Quarters at Morristown. Remarks on these 


plans begin 
to be un 

for evacuat 
ing the city. 

WHEN General Howe had taken possession of Long Is 
land, his plans began to be unfolded. The fleet came into 
the harbor, and an armed vessel passed up the East Riv 
er; but there were no indications of an attack on the 
city. It was obvious, indeed, that he designed to take 
New York by encompassing it on the land side, and to 
refrain from a cannonade and bombardment, by which 
the city might be injured, and rendered less fit for the 
accommodation of his troops in the winter, and less val 
uable as a place to be held during the war. Such being 
clearly the aim of the British commander, the attention 
of Washington was next drawn to the best mode of evac 
uating the city. 

As a preparatory step he removed beyond Kingsbridge 
the stores and baggage least wanted. In a council of 
general officers there was a difference of opinion as to a 
total evacuation. All agreed, that the town would not 
be tenable, if it should be bombarded ; and it was mani 
fest, that this might be done at any moment. Some 
were for destroying the city at once, and leaving it a 
waste, from which the enemy could derive no benefit. As 


an argument for this procedure, it was said two thirds of CHAPTER 
the property belonged to Tories. Others thought the po 
sition should be maintained at every hazard, till the army 1776. 
was absolutely driven out. A middle course was taken. 
It was resolved so to dispose the troops, as to be pre 
pared to resist any attack on the upper parts of the Is 
land, and retreat with the remainder whenever it should 
become necessary. Nine thousand men were to be sta 
tioned at Mount Washington, Kingsbridge, and the smaller 
posts in the vicinity of those places, five thousand to con 
tinue in the city, and the residue to occupy the inter 
mediate space, ready to support either of these divisions. 
The sick, amounting to one quarter of the whole army, 
were to be removed to the Jersey side of the Hudson. 

While these arrangements were in progress, the enemy British ship* 
were-* not idle, although probably less active than they River, 
would otherwise have been, in consequence of an inter 
view between Lord Howe and a committee of Congress 
at Staten Island, solicited by the former in the hope of 
suggesting some plan of reconciliation conformable to the 
terms of his commission. This attempt proving abortive, 
the operations commenced in earnest. Pour ships sailed 
into the East River, and anchored about a mile above the 
city. The next day six others followed. Parties of Brit 
ish troops landed on Buchanan's Island, and a cannonade 
was opened upon a battery at Horen's Hook. 

On the 15th of September in the morning, three men- British 
of-war ascended Hudson's River as high as Bloomingdale, 
with the view of dividing the attention of the Americans, 
by making a feint on that side. At the same time Gen 
eral Howe embarked a strong division of his army, com 
manded by General Clinton, consisting of British and 
Hessians, at the head of Newtown Bay on Long Island. 
About eleven o'clock, these troops, having come into the 
East River, began to land at Kip's Bay, under the fire 
of two forty-gun ships and three frigates. Batteries had Americans 
been erected there; but the men were driven from them their posts, 
by the firing from the ships. General Washington was 
24 s * 



. 44. 


New York 
by the Amer 
ican troops. 

on Haerlem 

now at Haerlem, whither he had gone the night before/ 
on account of the movements of the enemy at Montresor's 
Island; and, hearing the sound of the guns, he hastened 
with all despatch to the place of landing. To his inex 
pressible chagrin he found the troops, that had been posted 
on the lines, precipitately retreating without firing a shot, 
although not more than sixty or seventy of the enemy 
were in sight ; and also two brigades, which had been 
ordered to their support, flying in the greatest confusion, 
in spite of every effort of their officers to rally and form 
them. It is said, that no incident of the war caused 
Washington to be so much excited, as he appeared on 
this occasion. He rode hastily towards the enemy, till 
his own person was in danger, hoping to encourage the 
men by his example, or rouse them to a sense of shame 
for their cowardice. But all his exertions were fruitless. 
The troops, being eight regiments in all, fled to the main 
body on Haerlem Plains. 

The division in New York, under the command of 
General Putnam, retreated with difficulty, and with con 
siderable loss. Fifteen men only were known to be 
killed, but more than three hundred were taken prisoners. 
Nearly all the heavy cannon, and a considerable quantity 
of baggage, stores, and provisions, were left behind. A 
prompt and judicious manoeuvre on the part of the British 
general, by stretching his army across the island from 
Kip's Bay to Hudson's River, would have cut off the 
rear of the retreating division. But this was not effected, 
nor were the Americans pursued with much vigor in their 
retreat. General Washington drew all his forces together 
within the lines on the Heights of Haerlem, where they 
encamped the same night. Head-quarters were fixed at 
Morris's House, a mile and a half south from Mount 
Washington, on which was situate the fort of that name. 
After sending a small detachment to take possession of 
the city, General Howe encamped with the larger part of 
his army near the American lines, his right resting on 
the East River, and his left on the Hudson, supported 
at each extreme by the ships in those rivers. 


The next morning, Colonel Knowlton went out with a CHAPTER 
party of rangers 3 volunteers from the New England regi- IX * 
ments, and advanced through the woods towards the en- 1776 
emy's lines. When he was discovered. General Howe Engagement 

J near the 

detached two battalions of light infantry, and a regiment 
of Highlanders, to meet and drive him back. To these 
were afterwards added a battalion of Hessian grenadiers, a ge 
company of chasseurs, and two fieldpieces. On the ap 
pearance of these troops in the open grounds between the 
two camps, General Washington rode to the outposts, that 
he might be at hand to make such arrangements as cir 
cumstances should require. He had hardly reached the 
lines, when he heard a firing, which proceeded from an 
encounter between Colonel Knowlton and one of the Brit 
ish parties. The rangers returned, and said that the body 
of the enemy, as they thought, amounted to three hun 
dred men. Knowlton was immediately reinforced by three 
companies from Weedon's Virginia regiment under Major 
Leitch, and ordered to gain their rear, while their atten 
tion was diverted by making a disposition to attack them 
in front. The plan was successful. As the party ap 
proached in front, the enemy rushed down the hill to 
take advantage of a fence and bushes, and commenced 
firing, but at too great a distance to be effectual. Mean 
time Colonel Knowlton attacked on the other side, though 
rather in the flank than rear, and advanced with spirit. 
A sharp conflict ensued. Major Leitch, who led the at- Major 
tack, was carried off mortally wounded, three balls having * 
been shot through his body ; and in a short time Colo 
nel Knowlton fell. The action was resolutely kept up 
by the remaining officers and the men, till other detach 
ments arrived to their support ; and they charged the en 
emy with such firmness and intrepidity, as to drive them 
from the wood to the plain, when General Washington 
ordered a retreat, apprehending, what proved to be the 
case, that a large body was on its way from the British 
camp. The engagement, from first to last, continued four 
hours, although the sharp fighting was of short duration. 



[^Ex. 44. 

Events of 

the day im- 


The two ar- 
inactive. " 


sept. 25. 

General Howe reported eight officers and seventy privates 
wounded, and fourteen men killed. The American loss 
was fifteen killed, and about forty-five wounded. 

Colonel Knowlton was a gallant and meritorious offi- 
cer, and his death was much lamented. The events of 
the day were important, not so much on account of their 
magnitude, as of their influence on the army. The re 
treating, flying, and discomfitures, which had happened 
since the British landed on Long Island, contributed great 
ly to dispirit the troops, and to destroy their confidence 
in themselves and in their officers. The good conduct and 
success of this day were a proof, on the one hand, that 
the enemy was not invincible, and on the other, that the 
courage, so nobly exhibited at Lexington and Bunker's 
Hill the year before, still existed in the American ranks. 

The lines were too formidable on Haerlem Heights to 
tempt the British commander to try the experiment of 
an assault. His army lay inactive on the plains below 
more than three weeks. General Washington employed 
the time in strengthening his works, and preparing at all 
points for defence. His lines in front extended from Haer 
lem River to the Hudson, quite across the Island, which 
at this place is somewhat more than a mile wide. Gen 
eral Greene commanded on the Jersey side, with his head 
quarters at Fort Lee ; and General Heath at Kingsbridge, 
beyond which, on a hill towards the Hudson, a fort was 
erected, called Fort Independence. 

General Howe was raised to the honor of knighthood 
by his sovereign, after the news of the battle of Long 
Island reached England. But his good fortune did not 
inspire him with confidence. Notwithstanding his supe 
rior force, the expectation of a speedy addition to it from 
Europe, and his successes hitherto in driving the Ameri 
cans before him, he seems not to have looked forward 
with sanguine hopes to the issue of the campaign. In 
a letter to the ministry he said ; " The enemy is too 
strongly posted to be attacked in front, and innumerable 
difficulties are in our way of turning him on either side, 


though his army is much dispirited from the late success CHAPTER 
of his Majesty's arms; yet have I not the smallest pros- IX> 
pect of finishing the combat this campaign, nor until the 1776. 
rebels see preparations in the spring, that may preclude 
all thoughts of further resistance. To this end I would 
propose eight or ten line-of-battle ships to be with us in 
February, with a number of supernumerary seamen for 
manning boats, having fully experienced the want of 
them in every movement we have made. We must also 
have recruits from Europe, not finding the Americans dis 
posed to serve with arms, notwithstanding the hopes held 
out to me upon my arrival in this port." 

This last point was a source of great delusion to the En-ore of th 

British min 

British ministers almost to the end of the war. They 

flattered themselves with the belief, that a large part of 
their army might be recruited among the loyalists in 
America. Clothes and equipments were abundantly sup 
plied for this purpose, and extravagant bounties were of 
fered. The generals on the spot, being soon undeceived, 
remonstrated against so fallacious a dependence ; but the 
ministers closed their ears to such counsel, and persever 
ed. Plans were repeatedly formed by the generals, and 
approved by the cabinet, on the basis of a certain num 
ber of troops ; but, when the time of execution came, 
the men sent from Europe fell far short of the number 
promised, and the commander was instructed to make up 
the deficiency with American recruits. If the inquiry 
were pursued, it would be found that the ill success of 
the British arms, and the defeated expectations of the 
government, are often to be traced to this cause alone. 
Hence both Howe and Clinton, the principal commanders 
in America during the most active period of the war, be 
came dissatisfied, requested their recall long before it was 
granted, and finally went home to receive the censures 
of their countrymen and the neglect of the court. 

The subject, which now engaged the most anxious situation 
thoughts of Washington, was the situation and prospects pectsofth 
of the army. We have seen that the establishment form- army. 


CHAPTER ed at Cambridge was to continue for one year, and the 
IX ' time of its dissolution was near at hand. He had often 

1776. called the attention of Congress to this important subject, 
and pressed upon them the necessity of some radical al 
terations in the system hitherto pursued. By the expe 
rience of the past year all his first impressions had been 
confirmed, and all his fears realized, in regard to the 
mischievous policy of short enlistments, and of relying on 
militia to act against veteran troops. Disobedience of or 
ders, shameful desertions, running away from the enemy, 
plundering, and every kind of irregularity in the camp, 
had been the fatal consequences. 

Letter to " To bring men to a proper degree of subordination," 

said he, " is not the work of a day, a month, or even a 

sept. 24. year ; and, unhappily for us and the cause we are engag 
ed in, the little discipline I have been laboring to estab 
lish in the army under my immediate command is in a 
manner done away, by having such a mixture of troops, 
as have been called together within these few months. 
Relaxed and unfit as our rules and regulations of war 
are for the government of an army, the militia (those 
properly so called, for of these we have two sorts, the 
six-months' men, and those sent in as a temporary aid,) 
do not think themselves subject to them, and therefore 
take liberties, which the soldier is punished for. This 
creates jealousy ; jealousy begets dissatisfaction ; and this 
by degrees ripens into mutiny, keeping the whole army 
in a confused and disordered state, rendering the time of 
those, who wish to see regularity and good order prevail, 
more unhappy than words can describe. Besides this, 
such repeated changes take place, that all arrangement is 
set at nought, and the constant fluctuation of things de 
ranges every plan as fast as it is adopted." 

At the close of the long and able letter to Congress, 
from which this extract is taken, his feelings under the 
trials he suffered, and in contemplating the future, are 
impressively described. 

" There is no situation upon earth less enviable, or more 


distressing, than that person's, who is at the head of troops CHAPTER 

regardless of order and discipline, and unprovided with IX ' 

almost every necessary. In a word, the difficulties, which 1776. 

have for ever surrounded me since I have been in the A thorough 

change in 

service, and kept my mind constantly upon the stretch ; 
the wounds, which my feelings as an officer have re- 
ceived by a thousand things, that have happened contrary 
to my expectations and wishes ; the effect of my own 
conduct, and present appearance of things, so little pleas 
ing to myself, as to render it a matter of no surprise to 
me if I should stand capitally censured by Congress ; 
added to a consciousness of my inability to govern an 
army composed of such discordant parts, and under such 
a variety of intricate and perplexing circumstances ; in 
duce not only a belief, but a thorough conviction in my 
mind, that it will be impossible, unless there is a thor 
ough change in our military system, for me to conduct 
matters in such a manner as to give satisfaction to the 
public, which is all the recompense I aim at, or ever 
wished for." 

Moved by his representations and appeals, as well as congress 

resolves to 

by their own sense of the necessity of the case, Congress organize the 

arrny anew. 

determined to re-organize the army, on a plan conformable 
in its essential features to the suggestions of the Com 
mander-in-chief. Not that the jealousy of a standing army 
had subsided, but the declaration of independence had put 
the war upon a footing different from that, on which it 
was before supposed to stand ; and they, who for a long 
time cherished a lingering hope of reconciliation, were at 
length convinced, that the struggle would not soon ter 
minate, and that it must be met by all the means, which 
the wisdom, patriotism, and resources of the country could 
supply. As it was a contest of strength, a military force, 
coherent in its parts and durable in its character, was 
the first requisite. To the resolute and discerning this 
had been obvious from the moment the sword was drawn. 
The events of a year had impressed it on the minds of all. 
The new army was to consist of eighty-eight battalions, 


[.Ex. 44. 


tion of the 
new army. 

plan of the 
new army 
modified and 

apportioned in quotas to the several States according to 
their ability. The largest quota was fifteen battalions, 
which number was assigned respectively to Virginia and 
Massachusetts. The men were to serve during the war, 
this great point being at last gained. To encourage en 
listments, a bounty of twenty dollars and one hundred 
acres of land was offered to each non-commissioned officer 
and private ; and lands in certain quantities and propor 
tions were likewise promised to the commissioned officers. 
The business of enlisting the troops to fill up the quotas, 
and of providing them with arms and clothing, devolved 
upon the several States to which they belonged. The 
expense of clothing was to be deducted from the soldiers' 
pay. Colonels and all lower officers were to be, appointed 
by the States, but commissioned by Congress. The rules 
for the government and discipline of the army were at 
the same time revised and greatly amended. 

Thus matured, the plan was sent to the Commander- 
in-chief, and was soon followed by a committee from Con 
gress, instructed to inquire into the state of the army. 
From this committee the views of Congress were more 
fully ascertained ; but General Washington perceived de 
fects in the scheme, which he feared would retard, if 
not defeat, its operation. The pay of the officers had 
not been increased ; and he was persuaded, that officers 
of character could not be induced to retain their commis 
sions on the old pay. The mode of appointing them was 
defective, it being left to the State governments, which 
would act slowly, without adequate knowledge, and often 
under influences not salutary to the interests of the army. 
The pay of the privates was also insufficient. Congress 
partially remedied these defects in conformity to his ad 
vice, by raising the officers' pay, giving a suit of clothes 
annually to each private, and requesting the States to 
send commissioners to the army, with full powers to ar 
range with the Commander-in-chief the appointment of all 
the officers. With the jealousy of State sovereignty, and 
the fear of a standing army, this was all that could be 

^r.44.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 193 

obtained from the representatives of the States. And per- CHAPTER 
haps it was enough, considering their want of power to Ix> 
execute their resolves, and the necessity of being cautious 1776. 
to pass such only as the people would approve and obey. 
The above plan was modified before it went into effect, 
by allowing men to enlist for three years; these men not 
receiving the bounty in land. Hence the army from that 
time was composed of two kinds of troops, those en 
gaged for the war, and those for three years. At length, 
also, the States being negligent and tardy in providing 
for the appointment of officers, Congress authorized Gen 
eral Washington to fill up the vacancies. 

A circular letter was written by the President of Con- injurious 

. effects of an 

gress to the States, urging them to complete their quotas 

without delay. The proper steps were immediately taken ; bounties. 
but an evil soon crept into the system, which produced 
much mischief throughout the war. To hasten enlist 
ments, some of the States offered bounties in addition to 
those given by Congress ; and in many cases the towns 
to which quotas were assigned by the State governments, 
raised the bounties still higher, differing from each other 
in the amount. Again, when the militia were called out 
on a sudden emergency, it was usual to offer them extra 
ordinary rewards for a short term of service. This prac 
tice was injurious on many accounts. It kept back men 
from enlisting by the hope of higher bounties ; and, when 
they were brought together in the field, although the 
Continental pay was uniform, yet many were receiving 
more from incidental bounties, and in various proportions, 
which created murmurings and jealousies between indi 
viduals, companies, and regiments. Nor was there the 
salutary check of interest to operate as a restraint upon 
the States. The war was a common charge, and, when 
money or credit could be applied to meet the present 
exigency, it was a small sacrifice to be bountiful in ac 
cumulating a debt, which the continent was pledged to 
pay. There could be no other remedy than a supreme 
power in Congress, which did not exist ; and the evil was 
25 T 

194 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [^Ex. 44. 

CHAPTER at all times a source of irregularities in the military ar- 

Ix * __ rangements, and of vexation to the Commander-in-chief. 

1776. The arduous duties of General Washington's immediate 

Arduous du- command were now increased by the task of organizing 

ties of the ,,,-,. / -.1 

commander- a new army, and holding conferences with commissioners 
from the States for the appointment of officers, in the 
midst of an active campaign, while the enemy were press 
ing upon him with a force vastly superior in discipline, at 
times superior in numbers, and abundantly supplied with 
provisions, clothing, tents, and all the munitions of war. 

British Sir William Howe was soon in motion. Having pre- 

pared his plans for gaining the rear of the American 

army, by which he hoped either to cut off its commu- 
12< nication with the country, or bring on a general action, 
he first sent two ships, a frigate, and tenders up the 
Hudson. These vessels passed the batteries, and ran 
through the obstructions in the river, without receiving 
any apparent damage ; and thus secured a free passage to 
the Highlands, thereby preventing any supplies from com 
ing to the American army by water. This experiment 
having succeeded even better than he had expected, the 
British commander, on the 12th of October, embarked his 
troops on the East River on board flat-boats, sloops, and 
schooners, passed through Hell Gate into the Sound, and 
landed the same day at Frog's Point. Two brigades of 
British troops, and one of Hessians, amounting to five 
thousand men, were left under Earl Percy at Haerlem to 
cover the city of New York. General Howe remained 
five days at Frog's Point, waiting, as he says, for stores, 
provisions, and three battalions from Staten Island ; but, 
according to the American accounts, the strong defences, 
guarded by detachments from Washington's army, and the 
destruction of the causeway connecting the Point with the 
main land, discouraged him from attempting to march 
into the country at that place. He reembarked, landed 
again at Pell's Point, and advanced to the high grounds 
between East Chester and New Rochelle. Four days later 
he was joined by General Knyphausen with the second 


division of Hessians, and a regiment of Waldeckers, just CHAPTER 

arrived from Europe. lx> 

General Washington took measures to counteract these 177 6. 

movements and the designs of them. He arranged his American 

. army pre- 

army in four divisions, commanded respectively by Major- pares to^ 
Generals Lee, Heath, Sullivan, and Lincoln. The last York island, 
was not a Continental officer, but had recently come for- October ie. 
ward with a body of Massachusetts militia. It was de 
cided in a council of war, that the army should leave 
New York Island, and be extended into the country, so 
as to outflank General Howe's columns. At the same 
time it was agreed, " that Fort Washington should be re 
tained as long as possible." Two thousand men were 
left for that object. 

One of the four divisions crossed Kingsbridge, and 
threw up breastworks at Valentine's Hill. The others 
followed and formed a line of detached camps, with in- 
trenchments, on the heights stretching along the west 
side of the River Brunx, from Valentine's Hill to White 
Plains. This disposition was necessary in order to protect 
the baggage, stores, and cannon, which were removed 
with great difficulty for the want of wagons and horses. 
General Washington proceeded ' with the advanced divis 
ion to White Plains, where he fortified a camp in such 
a manner, as to afford security to the whole army, and 
where he intended to hazard a general engagement, if 
pushed by the enemy. The camp was on elevated ground, camp at 
defended in front by two lines of intrenchments nearly Plain!, 
parallel to each other, and between four and five hun 
dred yards apart. The right wing rested on the Brunx, 
which, by making a short bend, encompassed the flank 
and part of the rear. The left wing reached to a pond, 
or small lake, of some extent, by which it was effectu 
ally secured. 

As Sir William Howe marched his army directly for- British army 
ward in solid columns, without detaching any consider- white 
able parties towards New York and the Hudson, it was 
evident he intended to seek an opportunity to force a 


CHAPTER general action. As soon as the baggage and stores were 

"' brought up, therefore, Washington drew all his troops into 

1776. the camp at White Plains. In the interim, parties of 

Americans attacked the enemy's outposts at different points, 

and spirited skirmishes took place. 

Battle of Before noon, on the 28th of October, the British army 

ChatteYton's * 

HUL came in view, and displayed itself on the sides of the 

hills in front of Washington's lines, and within two miles 

October as. f his camp. A commanding height, called Chatterton's 
Hill, stood half a mile to the south of the American 
right flank, and was separated from it by the Brunx, and 
low marshy ground. A militia regiment had been posted 
there, which was joined in the morning by Colonel Has 
let, with his Delaware regiment, and afterwards by a bat 
talion of Maryland troops, and others, mostly militia, to 
the number of about sixteen hundred, the whole being 
under the command of General M c Dougall. The Brit 
ish commander made it his first object to dislodge these 
troops. For this purpose a battalion of Hessians, a brig 
ade of British commanded by General Leslie, and the 
Hessian grenadiers under Colonel Donop, were ordered to 
cross the Brunx and attack in front ; while Colonel Rahl, 
with another brigade of Hessians, should cross farther 
down the river and advance by a circuitous march upon 
the American right flank. They forded the Brunx, and 
formed in good order on the other side under the fire of 
their cannon, though not without being galled by the 
troops at the summit of the hill. They then ascended the 
heights, and, after a short but severe action, drove the 
Americans from their works ; but, contented with gaining 
the post, and fearing they might be cut off by venturing 
too far from the main body, they desisted from pursuit. 
The American loss has been variously represented. Ac 
cording to a return made by General Howe himself, the 
prisoners were four officers and thirty-five privates. The 
number killed was not known. 
Expected at- It was expected that this advantage would be followed 

tack on the , 

camp. by an immediate attack on the camp. Such indeed was 


the first intention of General Howe, and his troops lay CHAPTER 

on their arms all that night. In writing to Congress the _ 

next morning, General Washington's secretary said ; " Af 

ter gaining the hill (upon which they are intrenching), 

and leaving a sufficient number of men and artillery to 

prevent our repossessing it, they proceeded to advance by 

our left; and, as far as I can discover, their posts or en 

campments now form nearly a semicircle. It is evident 

their design is to get in our rear according to their orig 

inal plan. Every measure is taking to prevent them ; but 

the removal of our baggage is attended with infinite diffi 

culty and delays. Our post, from its situation, is not so 

advantageous as could be wished, and was only intended 

as temporary and occasional, till the stores belonging to 

the army, which had been deposited here, could be re 

moved. The enemy coming on so suddenly has distress 

ed us much. They are now close at hand, and most 

probably will in a little time commence their second at 

tack ; we expect it every hour ; perhaps it is beginning ; 

I have just heard the report of some cannon." Nothing 

more occurred, however, than slight skirmishes between 

the advanced parties. On reconnoitring the camp, Gen 

eral Howe thought it too strong for an assault, and re 

solved to wait for a reinforcement from Earl Percy, then 

at Haerlem. This arrived in two days, and the 31st of 

October was fixed on for the attack; but a heavy rain 

caused it again to be deferred. 

The same night General Washington drew all his troops Army takes 
to another position on the hills in his rear, which the 

delays of his opponent had allowed him time to fortify, October si. 
and which could be more easily defended than his first 
camp. So judiciously was this movement planned and 
conducted, that it was carried into effect without loss or 
molestation, and even without being discovered by the 
British army. The idea of a battle was now abandoned 
by General Howe ; he despaired of being able to dislodge 
the Americans from this strong position ; and it was soon The British 
ascertained, that he was withdrawing his army towards 
the Hudson and Kingsbridge. 


CHAPTER As this might be a feint to entice the American forces 

1X - from the hilly country, Washington remained in his new 

1776 - camp for a few days, till it was found that the enemy 

New ar- ' we re actually retracing their steps. It was then foreseen, 

rangeraents * i i 

of the army, that their first grand manoeuvre would be to invest Fort 
Washington ; and their next to pass the Hudson, and car 
ry the war into New Jersey, and perhaps make a push 
for Philadelphia. To meet these changes in the best man 
ner he could, he ordered all the troops belonging to the 
States west of the Hudson, five thousand in number, to 
cross the river at King's Ferry, all the crossing places be 
low being obstructed by British vessels. The rest of the 
army, composed of New York and eastern troops, was 
separated into two divisions. One of these, under Gen- 

Generai eral Heath, was stationed on both sides of the river in 


the Highlands, to defend those passes. The other, amount 

ing to about four thousand men, of whom many were 

militia, whose times of service were soon to expire, was 

left in the camp near White Plains, commanded by Gen- 

GeneraiLee. eral Lee, with discretionary instructions to continue on 

that side of the Hudson, or to follow the Commander-in- 

chief into New Jersey, as he should judge expedient when 

the designs of the enemy were unfolded. Having given 

these orders, General Washington inspected the posts at 

Washington the Highlands, and then repaired to Hackinsac, at which 

Hudson. place the troops that had crossed the river assembled, af 

ter a circuitous march of more than sixty miles. 

General General Howe moved his whole army to the neigh- 

Howe ar- * 

korhood of Kingsbridge. At his approach the Americans 
retired from Fort Independence, destroyed the bridge over 
NOV. 12. Haerlem River, and withdrew to the lines near Fort Wash 
ington. Thirty flat-boats had passed up the Hudson un 
discovered in the night, and entered Haerlem River, which, 
joined to others brought in from the East River, afforded 
ample means to the British army for crossing to New 
York Island. It was resolved to make the assault on the 
fort from four different points. The British adjutant- 
general was sent to Colonel Magaw, the commander in 


the fort, with a summons to surrender, which Colonel CHAPTER 

Magaw rejected, saying he would defend himself to the 

last extremity. 1776. 

The next morning, November 16th, General Knyphau- capture of 
sen advanced with a body of Hessians to- the north of ington. 
the fort, and commenced the attack. Earl Percy nearly NOV. ie. 
at the same time assailed the outer lines on the south j 
and two parties landed at some distance from each other, 
after crossing Haerlem River, and forced their way up 
the steep and rugged ascents on that side. The lines in 
every part were defended with great resolution and ob 
stinacy; but, after a resistance of four or five hours, the 
men were driven into the fort, and Colonel Magaw was 
compelled to surrender the whole garrison prisoners of 
war. The American loss was about fifty killed, and two 
thousand eight hundred and eighteen prisoners, including 
officers and privates. The number of men originally left 
with Colonel Magaw was only two thousand; but, when 
the attack was threatened, General Greene sent over re 
inforcements from Fort Lee. 

This was the severest blow which the American arms Particulars 
had yet sustained, and it happened at a most unpropitious ure ofFort 
time. That there was a great fault somewhere, has never 
been disputed. To whom it belongs, has been made a 
question. The project of holding the post, after the Brit 
ish began to retreat from White Plains, was General 
Greene's ; and, as he had commanded at the station several 
weeks, he was presumed to be perfectly acquainted with 
the condition of the garrison and its means of defence, 
and deference was paid to his judgment. Eight days be 
fore the attack, Washington wrote to General Greene ; 
" If we cannot prevent vessels from passing up, and the 
enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what 
valuable purpose can it answer to attempt to hold a post, 
from which the expected benefit cannot be had? I am 
therefore inclined to think, that it will not be prudent to 
hazard the stores and men at Mount Washington : but, as 
you are on the spot, I leave it to you to give such orders, 


CHAPTER as to evacuating Mount Washington, as you may judge 
IX< best." Nothing more decisive could be said without giv- 
1776. m g a positive order, which he was always reluctant to 
do, 'when he had confidence in an officer on a separate 
command. His opinion, that the troops ought to be with 
drawn, is clearly intimated. General Greene replied ; "I 
cannot help thinking the garrison is of advantage ; and I 
cannot conceive it to be in any great danger. The men 
can be brought off at any time, but the stores may not 
be so easily removed. Yet I think they may be got off, 
if matters grow desperate." To this opinion General 
Greene adhered to the last. The evening before the as 
sault, General Washington went from Hackinsac to Fort 
Lee ; and while crossing the river, with the view of vis 
iting the garrison, he met Generals Greene and Putnam 
returning, who told him " the troops were in high spirits, 
and would make a good defence." He went back with 
them to Fort Lee. The summons to surrender had al 
ready been received by Colonel Magaw ; the attack was 
expected the next morning, and it was now too late to 
withdraw the troops. 

wwhing- In a letter to his brother, written from Hackinsac three 

tohisbro- days after the surrender, General Washington said; "This 

post, after the last ships went past it. was held contrary 

Nov. 19. . . . f 

to my wishes and opinion, as I conceived it to be a haz 
ardous one ; but, it having been determined on by a full 
council of general officers, and a resolution of Congress 
having been received, strongly expressive of their desire, 
that the channel of the river, which we had been laboring 
to stop for a long time at that place, might be obstructed, 
if possible, and knowing that this could not be done, un 
less there were batteries to protect the obstruction, I did 
not care to give an absolute order for withdrawing the 
garrison, till I could get round and see the situation of 
things, and then it became too late, as the fort was in 
vested. Upon the passing of the last ships, I had given 
it as my opinion to General Greene, under whose care it 
was, that it would be best to evacuate the place ; but, as 


the order was discretionary, and his opinion differed from CHAPTER 
mine, it unhappily was delayed too long." 

From these facts it seems plain, that the loss of the 1776. 
garrison, in the manner it occurred, was the consequence 
of an erroneous judgment on the part of General Greene. 
How far the Commander-in-chief should have overruled 
his opinion, or whether, under the circumstances of the 
case, he ought to have given a peremptory order, it may 
perhaps be less easy to decide. 

Sir William Howe followed up his successes. A de- Fort Lee 
tachment of six thousand men, led by Earl Cornwallis, 
landed on the Jersey side, six or seven miles above Fort 
Lee, gained the high grounds with artillery, and marched 
down between the Hudson and Hackinsac Rivers. The 
whole body of troops with Washington not being equal to 
this force, he withdrew the garrison from Fort Lee to the 
main army at Hackinsac, leaving behind the heavy can 
non, many tents, and a large quantity of baggage, provision, 
and. other stores, which the rapid advance of the enemy 
made it impossible to secure. Being now in a level coun 
try, where defence was difficult, pent up between rivers, 
and pressed by a force double his own, no resource re 
mained but a rapid retreat. The Jersey shore, from New 
York to Brunswic, was open to the British vessels, and 
a landing might be effected at any place without oppo 
sition. It was necessary, therefore, that he should move 
towards the Delaware, pursuing a route near the Rariton 
River, that he might be in the way to prevent General 
Howe from throwing in a strong detachment between 
him and Philadelphia. 

While on the march, he wrote earnest letters to the Retreat 
i governor of New Jersey and to Congress, describing his New jersey, 
situation, and requesting the support of all the militia from 
New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that could be called into 
the service. When he arrived at Brunswic, the army then 
with him amounted to less than four thousand. He was 
closely pursued by Cornwallis ; but the retreat was ef 
fected, without loss, to Trenton, where he crossed the 


CHAPTER Delaware, and took a stand on the western side of that 

" river, securing the boats, and guarding the crossing-places 

1776. f rom Coryell's Ferry to Bristol. At this time the number 

Army crow- o f his men, fit for duty, was about three thousand. The 

es the Dela- * ' 

ware. enemy did not attempt to pass the river. For the present, 
December?. General Howe was contented with having overrun New 
Jersey ; and he covered his acquisition by a chain of can 
tonments at Pennington, Trenton, Bordentown, and Bur 
lington. In these positions, the two armies continued with 
little change for nearly three weeks. 

Enlistment The troops, constituting the Flying Camp heretofore 
disapproved mentioned, were all enlisted in the middle States, and en- 

by Washing 
ton, gaged for a year. Their term of service expired during 

the march, and none, except a small part of those from 
Pennsylvania, could be prevailed on to stay longer. The 
Board of War suggested a plan for enlisting prisoners, and 
appealed to the example of the enemy. General Wash 
ington opposed the measure, as not accordant with the 
rules of honorable warfare, and said he should remonstrate 
on the subject to Sir William Howe. He moreover thought 
it impolitic. In times of danger, such recruits would al 
ways be the most backward, fearing the punishment they 
would receive if captured, and communicating their fears 
to the other soldiers. Prisoners would likewise be tempted 
to enlist with the intention to desert and carry intelligence 
to the enemy, for which they would be largely rewarded. 
Under no circumstances, therefore, could confidence be 
placed in such men; and the chance was, that they 
would do much harm, 
conductor From the time the army separated at White Plains, 

General Lee 

ami his cap- General Lee had acted a very extraordinary part. Wash 
ington requested him, in a letter written at Hackinsac, to 
lead his division into New Jersey, and join the army on 
its march. This was soon followed by a positive order, 
which was often repeated. General Lee sent back various 
excuses, lingered on the east side of the Hudson, endeav 
ored to draw away two thousand of General Heath's men 
from the Highlands, contrary to the instructions given by 

. 44.] 



General Washington to the latter; and, after crossing CHAPTER 
with apparent reluctance into Jersey, his progress was so "* 
slow, that, in three weeks from the time he first received 1776 
orders to march, he had only reached Morristown. The 
truth is, that he had schemes of his own, which he was 
disposed to effect at the hazard of disobeying the Com 
mander-in-chief. In the first place, he hoped to make a 
brilliant stroke upon New York, when it should be ex 
hausted of troops for the expedition towards the Delaware ; 
and next, after crossing the Hudson, he still fostered the 
design of performing some signal exploit by attacking the 
enemy in their rear. But his ambitious projects and hopes 
were suddenly cut short. While on his march, not far 
from Baskingridge, he lodged one night at a private house 
three miles from his army, with a small guard. A Tory 
in the neighborhood gave notice of his situation to the 
enemy, and early in the morning the house was surround- Dec. is. 
ed by a party of light-horse, commanded by Colonel Har- 
court, who took him prisoner, and bore him off in triumph 
to the British camp. 

This event created a strong sensation of surprise and suspicion* 
regret throughout the country. The military talents, ex- motives of 

. . / /-N -IT 11- General Lee. 

perience, and activity of General Lee had inspired univer 
sal confidence, and raised high expectations in the minds 
of the people. He had served in America during the last 
war, and afterwards with distinguished reputation in dif 
ferent parts of Europe. His recent enterprise and suc 
cesses at the south had confirmed the good opinion before 
entertained of his abilities and skill. His capture, there 
fore, considering the circumstances, appeared inexplicable. 
Public sentiment, ever prone to extremes, took a direction 
unfavorable to his character. As no plausible reason could 
be assigned for his conduct in exposing himself so incau 
tiously, it was surmised that he was a voluntary prisoner, 
and sought this method of joining the enemy without 
incurring the odium of desertion. But there was no just 
ground for such a suspicion. As a soldier, he was true 
to the interests of his adopted country; as a friend to 


CHAPTER American freedom, his sincerity may be questioned. Har- 

K ' boring the most bitter resentment against the British 

1776. King ^d m i n i s t r y, for reasons not fully understood, he 

wished to see them humbled ; and this motive alone 

would have impelled him to embrace any cause tending 

to such a result. 

character of Violent in his temper, hasty in his resolves, reckless 

General Lee. 

in .adventure, possessing an inordinate self-confidence and 
unbounded ambition, he looked upon the American war 
as presenting an opportunity for gratifying at the same 
time his animosity and his passion for glory. He entered 
heartily into the measures of opposition to the British 
arms, and in the first year of the contest rendered im 
portant services ; but, believing himself superior to every 
other officer in the American ranks, impatient of control 
even by Congress or the Commander-in-chief, and always 
pressing on the verge of disobedience, his arrogance had 
risen to a pitch, that must soon have led to mischievous 
consequences to himself, and perhaps to the country, if 
he had escaped the misfortune of captivity. He was a 
man of genius, well educated, and a skilful writer ; but 
eccentric in his habits, unsettled in his principles, often 
offensive in his manners, showing little deference to the 
opinions and feelings of others, and little regard to the 
usages of society. 

strength of The command of Lee's division devolved on General 
Sullivan, who marched with it as soon as possible to the 
main army. Four regiments under General Gates also 
arrived from Ticonderoga, being relieved at that place by 
the retreat of General Carleton to Canada for winter- 
quarters. These were all the regular forces, which Gen 
eral Washington could draw to his support. Heath was 
ordered to advance with a part of his division from the 
Highlands ; but the taking of Rhode Island by the British, 
and the threatening appearance of the enemy's vessels in 
the Sound, made it imprudent to weaken that post, or to 
call away any of the eastern troops, and the order was 
countermanded. Three regiments on their march from 


Ticonderoga were ordered to halt at Morristown, that, in CHAPTER 

conjunction with a body of militia there assembled, they 1 
might inspirit the inhabitants and protect the country in 
that quarter. 

As soon as the ice should become sufficiently strong, it congress ad- 

journs to 

was expected the enemy would pass the Delaware, and Baltimore, 
bring all their force to bear upon Philadelphia. Antici 
pating this event, Congress adjourned to Baltimore. Gen 
eral Putnam took the command of the militia in Phila- General Pat- 


delphia, being instructed to throw up a line of intrench- 
ments and redoubts from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, 
and prepare for an obstinate defence. 

This was the gloomiest period of the war. The cam- Gloomy 
paign had been little else, than a series of disasters and fri. 
retreats. The enemy had gained possession of Rhode Isl 
and, Long Island, the city of New York, Staten Island, 
and nearly the whole of the Jerseys, and seemed on the 
point of extending their conquests into Pennsylvania. By 
the fatal scheme of short enlistments, and by sickness, 
the effective force with General Washington had dwin 
dled away, till it hardly deserved the name of an army. 
A proclamation was published jointly by Lord Howe and 
General Howe, offering pardon in the King's name to all, 
who should take the oath of allegiance, and come under 
his protection within sixty days. Many persons, among 
whom were men of wealth and consideration, accepted 
these terms, and went over to the enemy. Others, es 
pecially in New Jersey, took the oath, but remained at 
their homes. In short, so great was the panic and so 
dark the prospect, that a general despondency pervaded 
the continent. 

In the midst of these scenes of trial and discourage- washing- 
ment. Washington stood firm. Whatever his apprehen- ownd 

. . . * i spirit under 

sions may have been, no misgivings were manifest in his his reverses, 
conduct or his counsels. From his letters, written at this 
time on the western bank of the Delaware, it does not 
appear that he yielded for a moment to a sense of imme 
diate danger, or to a doubt of ultimate success. " On the 




. 44. 

CHAPTER contrary, they breathe the same determined spirit, and are 
Ix> marked by the same confidence, calmness, and forethought, 
1776. w hich distinguish them on all other occasions. When 
asked what he would do, if Philadelphia should be taken, 
he is reported to have said ; " We will retreat beyond the 
Susquehanna River ; and thence, if necessary, to the Al- 
legany Mountains." Knowing, as he did, the temper of 
the people, the deep rooted cause of the controversy, and 
the actual resources of the confederacy, he was not dis 
heartened by temporary misfortunes, being persuaded that 
perseverance would at last overcome every obstacle. While 
even the shadow of an army could be kept in the field, 
the war must be carried on at an enormous expense by 
the British government, which the wealthiest nation could 
not long sustain. 

Deeply impressed with this conviction, and making it 
both the groundwork of his policy and his rule of action, 
he applied all his energies to a renovation of the army, 
boldly exposing to Congress the errors of their former sys 
tems, and earnestly exhorting them to a more effectual 
exercise of their authority in giving support and vigor to 
the military establishment. On the 20th of December he 
wrote as follows to the President of Congress. 

" My feelings as an officer and a man have been such 
as to force me to say, that no person ever had a greater 
choice of difficulties to contend with than I have. It is 
needless to add, that short enlistments, and a mistaken 
dependence upon militia, have been the origin of all our 
misfortunes, and the great accumulation of our debt. We 
find, Sir, that the enemy are daily gathering strength from 
the disaffected. This strength, like a snowball, by rolling, 
will increase, unless some means can be devised to check 
effectually the progress of the enemy's arms. Militia may 
possibly do it for a little while ; but in a little while, 
also, and the militia of those States, which have been fre 
quently called upon, will not turn out at all ; or, if they do, 
it will be with so much reluctance and sloth, as to amount 
to the same thing Instance New Jersey ! Witness Penn- 

Letter of ex 
hortation to 

Dec. 20. 

^Ex. 44.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 207 

sylvania ! Could any thing but the River Delaware have CHAPTER 
saved Philadelphia? Can any thing (the exigency of the ** 
case indeed may justify it) be more destructive to the re- 1776. 
cruiting service, than giving ten dollars' bounty for six 
weeks' service of the militia who come in, you cannot tell 
how, go, you cannot tell when, and act, you cannot tell 
where, consume your provisions, exhaust your stores, and 
leave you at last at a critical moment? 

" These. Sir, are the men I am to depend upon ten urges an in- 

. . '. . . . ... .,, crease of the 

days hence ; this is the basis on which your cause will army, 
and must for ever depend, till you get a large standing 
army sufficient of itself to oppose the enemy. I therefore 
beg leave to give it as my humble opinion, that eighty- 
eight battalions are by no means equal to the opposition 
you are to make, and that a moment's time is not to be 
lost in raising a greater number, not less, in my opinion 
and the opinion of my officers, than a hundred and ten. 
It may be urged, that it will be found difficult enough to 
complete the first number. This may be true, and yet 
the officers of a hundred and ten battalions will recruit 
many more men, than those of eighty-eight. In my judg 
ment this is not a time to stand upon expense ; our funds 
are not the only object of consideration. The State of New 
York have added one battalion (I wish they had made it 
two) to their quota. If any good officers will offer to 
raise men upon Continental pay and establishment in this 
quarter, I shall encourage them to do so, and regiment 
them when they have done it. If Congress disapprove of 
this proceeding, they will please to signify it, as I mean 
it for the best. It may be thought that I am going a 
good deal out of the line of my duty, to adopt these 
measures, or to advise thus freely. A character to lose, an 
estate to forfeit, the inestimable blessings of liberty at 
stake, and a life devoted, must be my excuse." 

This representation, and others of like import, had their congress 

, ~, , T . . , . adopt his 

due eiiect. .Notwithstanding the extreme sensitiveness counsels, 

and invest 

hitherto shown by Congress, in regard to a military as- him with 

D . . ; J dictatorial 

cendency, the present crisis was such, as to silence the 


CHAPTER opposition, if not to change the sentiments, of the mem- 
. g * bers who had looked with distrust upon every measure 
1776. tending to strengthen the military arm. General Wash 
ington was at once invested with extraordinary powers. 
Dec. 27. By a formal resolve he was authorized to raise sixteen 
battalions of infantry, in addition to the eighty-eight al 
ready voted by Congress, and appoint the officers ; to raise 
and equip three thousand light-horse, three regiments of 
artillery, and a corps of engineers ; to call upon any of 
the States for such aids of militia as he should judge 
necessary ; to form magazines of provisions ; to displace 
and appoint all officers under the rank of brigadiers, and 
fill up vacancies in every part of the army ; to take 
whatever he should want for the use of the army, allow 
ing the inhabitants a reasonable price for the same j and 
to arrest and confine persons, who refused to receive the 
Continental currency, or who were otherwise disaffected 
to the American cause, and to report them for trial to the 
States of which they were citizens. These powers con 
stituted him in all respects a military Dictator. They 
were to continue six months ; and in his exercise of them 
he fully justified the confidence of Congress, as expressed 
in the preamble to the resolve, in which it is said they 
were granted in consequence of a perfect reliance on his 
wisdom, vigor, and uprightness, 
cautious use In this case, as in all others where power was intrust- 

ofhispow- ii- 11 ! M 

ere. ed to him, whether acting in a military or civil capacity, 

he was cautious to exercise it no farther than to effect 
the single end for which it was designed. Fearless in 
the discharge of duty, and never shrinking from responsi 
bility, he was at the same time free from the vanity, 
which too often besets men in high stations, of gaining 
v personal consequence by making himself felt as the cen 
tre and moving spring of the operations over which he 
had control. No man was more vigilant in seeing that 
every thing was properly done ; but he was willing that 
others should be the agents, or the contrivers, and that 
every one should have the credit and the praise of his 


worthy deeds. In the present instance, therefore, when CHAPTER 
Congress or the governments of the States voluntarily re 
lieved him from a part of his task, which they sometimes 1776. 
did while he possessed the dictatorship, so far was he 
from thinking it an encroachment on his authority or an 
interference, that he expressed satisfaction and thanks.* 
To the main point, however, of reforming and recruit- 

ing the army, he gave his immediate and earnest atten- v 'g<> r l re- 

J J t cruiting the 

tion. In advancing this object, he employed the powers arm y- 
with which he was invested to their fullest extent. The 
mode of appointing officers was one of the most serious 
defects in the system recently established by Congress. 
Some of the States had neglected to complete their ap- 

* After he had been invested with the above dictatorial office, the 
Council of Safety of New York apologized to him for certain measures 
they had taken in regard to the troops of that State, which they after 
wards discovered to have been an invasion of the powers properly be 
longing to the Commander-in-chief. Washington replied ; " I should be 
unhappy in the belief, that any part of my. letter to you could be con 
strued into the slightest hint, that you wish to interfere in the military 
line. Heaven knows that I greatly want the aid of every good man, and 
that there are not such enviable pleasures attending my situation, as to 
make me too jealous of its prerogatives. Rather than complain of your 
late efforts in the military way, you deserve the thanks of us all, and 
I feel myself happy in this opportunity of returning you mine in the 
greatest truth and sincerity." 

The resolves of Congress, conferring the above powers, were trans 
mitted to Washington by the Committee, who remained in Philadelphia 
when the Congress adjourned to Baltimore, namely, Robert Morris, 
Clymer, and Walton. In their letter they said ; " We find by these 
resolves, that your Excellency's hands will be strengthened with very 
ample powers; and a new reformation of the army seems to have its 
origin therein. Happy it is for this country, that the General of their 
forces can safely be intrusted with the most unlimited power, and 
neither personal security, liberty, nor property, be in the least degree 
endangered thereby." 

To no one, who has been conspicuous in history, could the words of 
Ennius, as quoted by Cicero in illustration of the character of Fabius 
Maximus, be more appropriately applied than to Washington. 

" Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem ; 
Non ponebat enim rumores ante salutem ; 
Ergo magisque magisque viri nunc gloria claret." 







Hi* rule for 
the selection 
of officers. 

Plans an at 
tack on the 
enemy at 

pointments ; and generally these were made with so little 
judgment, and with such a disregard of military rules, 
that officers without worth or experience had been put 
over the heads of those, who were accustomed to service, 
and had given proofs of their valor and ability. By his 
power 'to displace, and to fill up vacancies, Washington 
rectified these errors as far as prudence would permit. 
The appointments for the sixteen additional battalions of 
infantry, and the new regiments of light-horse, artillery, 
and engineers, being wholly in his hands, he took care 
to provide for meritorious officers, who had been over 
looked by the States ; thus removing their disgust, secur 
ing a valuable accession to the army, and inducing many 
privates to reerilist, who had participated in the dissatis 
faction of their officers. His rule in this respect is indi 
cated in a letter of instructions to Colonel Baylor, who 
was to command a regiment of light-horse. 

"As nothing contributes so much to the constitution of 
a good regiment," said he, " as a good corps of officers, 
and no method is so likely to obtain these, as leaving the 
choice in a great measure to the gentleman, who is to 
reap the honors or share the disgrace of their behavior, I 
shall vest you with the power of nominating the officers of 
your regiment, except the field-officers ; claiming to myself 
a negative upon a part or the whole, if I have reason to 
suspect an improper choice. I earnestly recommend to you 
to be circumspect in your choice of officers. Take none 
but gentlemen ; let no local attachments influence you ; 
do not suffer your good nature, when an application is 
made, to say yes, when you ought to say no ; remember 
that it is a public, not a private cause, that is to be in 
jured or benefited by your choice ; recollect, also, that 
no instance has yet happened of good or bad behavior in 
a corps in our service, that has not originated with the 
officers. Do not take old men, nor yet fill your corps 
with boys, especially for captains." 

Before these measures for arranging the army were ma 
tured, other events of great importance occurred, which 

. 44.] 



gave a new face to affairs. From the moment Washing- CHAPTER 
ton crossed the Delaware, his thoughts were turned upon IX ' 
devising some method to retrieve hi losses, or at least to 1776. 
impede the progress and derange the plans of the enemy. 
For several days it was uncertain what course General 
Howe would pursue. The river continued free from ice 
longer than was expected. He kept his detachments can 
toned at the places where they had first been lodged, the 
strongest being at Brunswic, ready to move in any direc 
tion at a short notice. Meantime the American force 
gained accessions by Lee's division, the regiments from 
Ticonderoga, and the militia from Philadelphia and the 
eastern parts of Pennsylvania, who turned out with spirit 
and in considerable numbers. These latter troops were in 
two bodies, one at Bristol under General Cadwalader, the 
other nearly opposite the town of Trenton, commanded by 
General Ewing. The Continental regiments were still 
retained in their original position higher up the river. 

At length General Washington resolved to hazard the Position of 
bold experiment of recrossing the Delaware, and attacking mfes W 
the enemy on their own ground. At Trenton were three 
regiments of Hessians, amounting to about fifteen hun 
dred men, and a troop of British light-horse. Small de 
tachments were stationed at Bordentown, Burlington, Black 
Horse, and Mount Holly. These latter posts were to be 
assaulted by Cadwalader, who was to cross near Bristol, 
while Washington should cross above Trenton, and Ewing 
a little below, and unite in the attack upon the Hessians 
in that place. The night of the 25th of December was 
fixed on for making the attempt. 

At dusk, the Continental troops selected for the ser- Battle or 
vice, and commanded by General Washington in person, 7 ton * 
amounting to two thousand four hundred men, with twenty 
pieces of artillery, began to cross at M c Konkey's Ferry, 
nine miles above Trenton, and it was supposed they would 
all be passed over by twelve o'clock ; but the floating ice 
retarded the boats so much, that it was almost four 
o'clock in the morning before the whole body, with the 

Dec. 28. 



[JET. 44. 

CHAPTER artillery, was landed on the opposite bank of the river 
ready to march. The troops were then formed in two 


captured at 

divisions. One of these, commanded by General Sullivan, 
marched in the road near the river ; and the other, led 
by General Greene, moved down a road farther to the 
left, called the Pennington road. General Washington 
was with this division. The roads entered the town at 
different points, and as the distance by each was nearly 
the same, it was intended that the attacks should begin 
simultaneously. At eight o'clock the left division fell in 
with the enemy's advanced guard, and almost at the 
same instant a firing was heard on the right, which show 
ed that the other division had arrived. They both pushed 
forward into the town, meeting with little opposition, ex 
cept from two or three pieces of artillery, which Were 
soon taken. The Hessians, being driven from the town 
and hard pressed, made a show of retreating towards 
Princeton, but were checked by a body of troops sent 
to intercept them. Finding themselves surrounded, and 
seeing no other way of escape, they all surrendered pris 
oners of war. 

The number of prisoners was twenty-three officers and 
eight hundred and eighty-six privates. Others were found 
concealed in houses, making in the whole about a thou 
sand. The British light-horse, and four or five hundred 
Hessians, escaped at the beginning of the action over the 
bridge across the Assanpink, and fled to Bordentown. Six 
brass fieldpieces and a thousand stand of arms were 
the trophies of victory. Colonel Rahl, the Hessian com 
mander and a gallant officer, was mortally wounded. Six 
Dther officers and between twenty and thirty men were 
killed. The American loss was two privates killed and 
two others frozen to death. Captain William Washington, 
distinguished as an officer of cavalry at a later period of 
the war, and Lieutenant Monroe, afterwards President of 
the United States, were wounded in a brave and suc 
cessful assault upon the enemy's artillery. The fact, that 
two men died by suffering from cold, is a proof of the 

^x. 44.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 213 

intense severity of the weather. It snowed and hailed CHAPTER 
during the whole march. IX ' 

The ice had formed so fast in the river below Tren- 1776. 

ton, that it was impracticable for the troops under Cad- Recrossea 

the Dela- 

walader and Ewing to pass over at the times agreed ware to ws 
upon. Cadwalader succeeded in landing a battalion of 
infantry ; but the ice on the margin of the stream was 
in such a condition, as to render it impossible to land the 
artillery, and they all returned. If Ewing had crossed, 
as was proposed, and taken possession of the bridge on 
the south side of the town, the party that fled would 
have been intercepted and captured. And there was the 
fairest prospect that Cadwalader would have been equally 
fortunate against the detachments below, or have driven 
them- towards Trenton, where they would have met a 
victorious army. This part of the plan having failed, 
and the enemy being in force at Princeton and Brunswic, 
it was thought advisable by General Washington not to 
hazard any thing further, especially as his men were ex 
hausted with fatigue. He recrossed the Delaware with 
his prisoners the same day, and gained his encampment 
on the other side. 

The British and Hessian troops posted at Bordentown, Passes over 
and in the vicinity of that place, immediately retreated ware again, 

. and takes up 

to Princeton, so that the whole line of the enemy's can- his quarters 

7 * at Trenton. 

tonments along the Delaware was broken up and driven 

Dec. 30. 

back. As soon as his troops were refreshed, General 
Washington again passed over the Delaware, and took 
up his quarters at Trenton, resolved to pursue the enemy, 
or adopt such other measures as his situation would jus 
tify. Meanwhile General Cadwalader succeeded in cross 
ing over with eighteen hundred Pennsylvania militia, who 
were followed by as many more under General Mifflin, 
all of whom formed a junction with the main army at 

At this critical moment the term of service of several The term of 
regiments expired, the dissolution of the old army occur- man'y of the 

-, /. , , , ' troops ex- 

Ting on the last day of the year ; and, worn down with 



[>T. 44. 



Lord Corn- 
willis ar 
rives at 

January 2. 

resolves to 
march to 

the extraordinary hardships of the campaign, the men 
seemed at first determined to go off in a body, and re 
turn to their homes. By much persuasion, however, and 
the exertions of their officers, seconded by a bounty of 
ten dollars to each man, more than half of them agreed 
to remain six weeks longer. 

It was not presumed that Sir William Howe would long 
permit the Americans quietly to possess the advantages 
they had gained, or delay to retaliate for the disasters his 
army had suffered. He was now in New York ; and, 
when the intelligence of the late events reached that city, 
he ordered Lord Cornwallis, then on the eve of embark 
ing for Europe, to suspend his departure, and take the 
command in the Jerseys. This officer hastened to Prince 
ton, followed by additional forces from Brunswic. In the 
morning of the 2d of January, it was ascertained that 
the enemy's battalions were marching towards Trenton, 
and General Washington prepared to meet an attack. To 
harass them on their march, and retard their progress, he 
sent out strong parties on the road to Princeton, with or 
ders to skirmish at every advantageous position. These 
orders were faithfully obeyed, and the head of the ene 
my's columns did not reach Trenton till four o'clock in 
the afternoon. The American army then retired to the 
high ground beyond the Assanpink. The bridge was de 
fended by artillery, and a sharp cannonade was kept up, 
particularly at that point, and et the fords above the 
bridge, which the enemy attempted to pass. At dusk the 
firing ceased, and Lord Cornwallis encamped his troops 
near the village, intending to renew the combat in the 
morning, when his reinforcements should arrive. The 
Americans encamped on the ground they occupied after 
crossing the Assanpink, and the fires kindled by the two 
armies were in full view of each other. 

To all appearance a general action must be fought the 
next day, and this with fearful odds, as the British were 
superior in numbers, and immeasurably so in the disci 
pline and experience of their men ; for more than half 

2Er. 44.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 215 

of the American army consisted of militia, who had never CHAPTER 
seen a battle, and had been but a few days in the service. IX * 
At the beginning of the evening General Washington 1777 - 
assembled his officers in council and a bold resolution 
was adopted. From the number of Lord Cornwallis's 
troops it was rightly conjectured, that he could not have 
left many in the rear ; and it was decided to move by 
a concealed march on the east side of the Assanpink to 
Princeton. If no obstacles were met with on the way, 
it was possible that the army might push onward to 
Brunswic, surprise the enemy there, and capture the 
stores, before Lord Cornwallis could return. To secure 
his baggage and prevent it from encumbering the army, 
General Washington ordered it to be silently removed to 
Burlington, and at twelve o'clock at night commenced 
his march. That the suspicion of the enemy might not 
be awakened, the fires were kept burning, and the guards 
were ordered to remain at the bridge and the fords, till 
the approach of daylight, when they were to follow. 
Men were employed during the night digging an in- 
trenchment so near the enemy's sentries, that they could 
be heard at their work. 

Pursuing a circuitous route, General Washington reached Battle of 
Princeton a little after sunrise. Three British regiments 
were found there, being the seventeenth, fortieth, and 
fifty-fifth, commanded by Colonel Mawhood, two of which 
were designed to reinforce Lord Cornwallis that morning 
at Trenton. These two were already on their march. 
The American vanguard first engaged the seventeenth, 
and a short but very severe conflict ensued. The regi 
ment was thrown into disorder, and the fragments dis 
persed. Some accounts say, that they broke through the 
American ranks ; others that they fled. At any rate, after 
a brave resistance, they escaped from the field, and re 
gained the road to Trenton. The rencounter was likewise 
sustained with spirit by the fifty-fifth regiment, which 
finally retreated towards Brunswic, as did also the for 
tieth, which took little part in the action. The British 






Results of 
the battle. 


returns from 
Trenton. . 

marches to 

loss was more than one hundred killed, and about three 
hundred prisoners. 

But the victory was by no means a bloodless one to 
the Americans. General Mercer was mortally wounded ; 
and Colonel Haslet, Colonel Potter, and other officers of 
subordinate rank, were killed. General Mercer was a 
Scotchman by birth, and in his youth had been in the 
battle of Culloden. He served in America with distinc 
tion during the last French war, and afterwards settled 
in Virginia. He was a brave and worthy man, an inti 
mate friend of the Commander-in-chief, much respected 
for his talents, military character, and private worth, and 
his death was deeply lamented. Colonel Haslet had dis 
tinguished himself for bravery and good conduct in the 
battles of Long Island and Chatterton's Hill, and in sev 
eral hazardous enterprises. Throughout the action, Gen 
eral Washington exposed his person in the hottest parts 
of the combat, giving orders and animating the troops. 
At the request of the prisoners, Captain Leslie, a British 
officer much beloved by them, and killed in the action, 
was buried with military honors in the American camp. 

When daylight appeared, and it was discovered that the 
Americans were gone, Lord Cornwallis easily penetrated 
the plans of Washington, and his conjecture was confirmed 
by the firing heard in the direction of Princeton. Alarmed 
for the safety of Brunswic, he immediately retreated, and 
his van had almost reached Princeton, when the rear of 
the American army left it. Washington pursued the two 
fugitive regiments as far as Kingston, where he turned 
short to the left, and arrived the same evening at Plucke 
min, having twice crossed the Millstone River, and caused 
the bridge at Kingston to be taken up, in order to retard 
the march of the enemy. Considering the exhausted state 
of his men, who had not slept for thirty-six hours, and 
the near approach of Cornwallis with a superior army of 
fresh troops, he thought it prudent to abandon his design 
upon Brunswic, contenting himself with his success at 
Princeton, and with having drawn the enemy from all 
their posts on the Delaware. 


At Pluckemin he remained no longer than to give his CHAPTER 
troops rest and refreshment, and then advanced to Morris- 
town, where his winter-quarters were finally established. 1777. 

This was not in all respects so favorable a situation as Retires to 


,,.,,. . -T/^., 

he desired ; but it was in a mountainous region, difficult ters at 
of access to the enemy, and surrounded by a fertile coun 
try affording abundant supplies. He did not sit down 
idle, however, nor trust to the barriers of nature for his 
protection. Unprovided as his men were with almost ev 
ery thing necessary for a winter campaign, he sent out 
detachments to assail and harass General Howe's troops ; 
and with such vigor and address were these expeditions 
conducted, that in a short time not a single British or 
Hessian regiment remained in the Jerseys, except at Bruns- 
wic and Amboy, between which places and New York 
was an open communication by water. 

Such were the splendid results of General Washington's Effects of 

, , . - the late 

plans and operations from the time he determined to re- operations. _ 

cross the Delaware. When his army was thought to be 

on the verge of annihilation, and the whole world re 

garded American liberty as struggling in the last stage 

of its existence, he commenced and pursued an offensive 

warfare against a hitherto victorious army, strong in num 

bers and confident in its strength, and, within the brief 

space of three weeks, dislodged it from every post it had 

taken along the Delaware River, relieved Philadelphia 

from danger, and recovered almost the whole province of 

New Jersey. The glory of these achievements was ren 

dered doubly conspicuous by their immediate effects. The 

despondency, which had weighed heavily upon the minds 

of the people, was dispelled as by a charm, the' martial 

spirit wasj revived, and a new animation infused into the 

public counsels. 

The classical and eloquent Italian historian of the war, Tribute of 
Charles Botta, after describing these transactions, adds; 
" Achievements so astonishing gained for the American 
commander a very great reputation, and were regarded 
with wonder by all nations, as well as by the Americans. 
28 w 

218 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [jEx. 44. 

CHAPTER Every one applauded the prudence, the firmness, and the 
IX> daring of General Washington. All declared him the 
1 7 7 7 savior of his country ; all proclaimed him equal to the 
most renowned commanders of antiquity, and especially 
distinguished him by the name of the AMERICAN FABIUS. 
His name was in the mouths of all* men, and celebrated 
by the pens of the most eminent writers. The greatest 
personages in Europe bestowed upon him praise and con 
gratulation. Thus the American General wanted neither 
a noble cause to defend, nor an opportunity for acquiring 
glory, nor the genius to avail himself of it, nor a whole 
generation of men competent and well disposed to render 
him homage." * 

* Storia della Guerra dell' Independenza degli Stati Uniti d' America, 
Tom. II. Lib. 7. 

. 44.1 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. .219 


General Washington's Proclamation. His Preparations for the next Cam 
paign. Exchange of Prisoners. Condition of the American Prisoners 
in New York. Military Operations in New Jersey. The Army crosses 
the Delaware and encamps near Germantown. Washington's first In 
terview with Lafayette. Sir William Howe lands at the Head of Elk. 
Battle of the Brandy wine. N6w Powers conferred on Washington by 
Congress. Battle of Germantown. Skirmishes at Whitemarsh. Suf 
ferings of the Army. Winter Encampment at Valley Forge. Spurious 
Letters written and circulated in the Name of Washington. Con way's 
Cabal. Persons concerned in it. Honorable and generous Conduct of 
Lafayette in Relation to this Afiair. 

HEAD-QUARTERS being at Morristown, the central or CHAPTER 
main division of the army was encamped for the winter _ Xt 
near that place in huts temporarily constructed for the 1777. 
purpose. Cantonments were likewise established at vari- Position of 
ous points from Princeton on the right, where General 
Putnam commanded, to the Highlands on the left, which 
post continued under the charge of General Heath. Skir 
mishes often happened between the American advanced 
troops and the enemy's foraging parties. For six months, 
however, no enterprise of magnitude was undertaken on 
either side. 

Sir William Howe's proclamation, as we have seen, had General 
produced considerable effect in the Jerseys. Not only the prociama- 
disaffected, but many well disposed citizens, finding them- effectl 
selves in the power of the enemy, had sought protection 
for their families and their property by taking an oath of 
allegiance to the King. Their hopes had been fatally dis 
appointed. With such license had the British and Hessian 
troops overrun the country, that they plundered, burnt, and 
destroyed whatever came in their way, and in some instances 
committed the greatest outrages upon the inhabitants, with 
out discriminating between friends and foes. In one re- 



[-fflr. 44. 



January 26. 

CHAPTER spect this conduct was serviceable to the cause of the pa- 

x ' triots. It roused the indignation of the people, and, goad- 

177 7 ed by the deep feeling of their wrongs, the militia flew 

to arms with an alacrity and determination not surpassed 

on any former occasion. A large number of substantial 

farmers, however, more pacific in their dispositions, who 

had taken advantage of the proclamation, professed scru 

ples in regard to their oath. They looked upon their 

pledge as binding them at least to a passive neutrality. 

To remove this difficulty, and draw a proper line of 
distinction between friends arvd enemies, General Wash- 
ington issued a counter proclamation, commanding all per 
sons, who had received protections from the British com 
missioners, to repair to head-quarters or to some general 
officer of the army, to deliver up such protections, and take 
an oath of allegiance to the United States ; " nevertheless 
granting full liberty to all such, as preferred the interests 
and protection of Great Britain to the freedom and hap 
piness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves 
and their families within the enemy's lines." Thirty days 
were allowed for complying with this order, at the end 
of which period, those, who had neglected or refused to 
comply, were to be deemed as adherents to the King of 
Great Britain, and treated as enemies to the American 

Strange as it may be thought, the publishing of this 
proclamation was considered an undue exercise of power. 
Even in Congress it was censured by some of the mem 
bers. The legislature of New Jersey more than hinted, 
that it was an encroachment on their prerogatives. An 
oath of allegiance to the United States was said to be 
absurd before the confederation was formed, and the pow 
er of requiring such an oath was claimed exclusively for 
each State. Hence the opposition arose, not from an im 
partial view of the abstract merits of the act, but from 
the jealousy of State sovereignty. Fully convinced, how 
ever, of the necessity, reasonableness, and equity of the 
measure, Washington adhered to it, and instructed his 

tion disap 
proved by 
some per 

^x. 45.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 221 

officers accordingly, willing, as in all other cases, to risk CHAPTER 
his own popularity in promoting the public interests. 

His first care, after putting the troops in winter-quarters, 1777. 
was drawn to the completion of the army for the next condition of 
campaign ; and he wrote circular letters to the governors 
of the middle and eastern States, urging them in the 
strongest terms to adopt prompt and effectual methods for 
raising recruits and filling up their regiments. His effi 
cient strength through the winter was so small, that pru 
dence required him to use the expedient, to which he 
was often driven, of magnifying his numbers to the pub 
lic, lest the enemy, becoming acquainted with his weak 
ness, should make a sudden and rapid movement upon 
him, and obtain an easy victory. This deception, so es 
sential to his safety, operated unfavorably ; since it gave 
the impression that his army was much larger than it 
really was, and diminished the efforts gf the States to 
provide seasonable reinforcements. It was only in the 
midst of a campaign, when the enemy were in motion, 
that the people thought of danger ; and then it was often 
too late to make proper exertions for increasing the army. 

To stimulate the activity of the States, by forcible and An addition- 

., -, . , -ii-i al number of 

reiterated representations to the governors and legislatures, general O/B- 

, ., cere appoint- 

by argument, persuasion, and appeals to every motive of ed. 

pride, honor, and patriotism, was the task which he was 
obliged to repeat every winter ; and this was a source of 
unceasing anxiety from the time the troops went into 
quarters, till they again took the field to combat the en 
emy. Congress, embarrassed by the novelty of their du 
ties and the indefinite nature of their powers, deliberated 
with caution, and were seldom ready to act in military 
affairs, till incited by the counsels or earnest entreaties of 
the Commander-in-chief. For several months he had urg 
ed upon them the necessity of a larger number of gen 
eral officers in the army, and in February five additional 
major-generals and ten brigadiers were appointed. 

On this subject he always spoke with delicacy in his objectiou- 

1 . , . . . able mode of 

letters, rarely expressing an opinion as to the qualifier- appointing 

w * officers - 



. 45. 

CHAPTER tions of individuals, and avoiding equally the appearance 
of partiality and of a wish to interfere in any degree with 
the appointing power. Various considerations produced de 
lays and sometimes contentions in Congress respecting 
military appointments. Local predilections interposed the 
chief obstacles. The claims of the respective States were 
to be regarded, according to which the general officers 
were to be taken from each in proportion to the number 
of troops it furnished. By this rule the best officers in 
the country could not be selected, if it happened that 
more than one or two resided in the same State. More 
over there were frequent disagreements among the dele 
gates of a particular State, in regard to the comparative 
merits of the candidates of such State, especially when 
the pretensions of each were supported by the influence 
of friends or parties. This mode of appointing officers not 
only brought sojne into the service, who were incompe 
tent to their high station, but created dissensions in the 
army about rank, and added to the many troubles that 
harassed the Commander-in-chief. 

Soon after General Howe arrived at Staten Island from 
Halifax, a correspondence was opened between him and 
General Washington respecting the exchange of prisoners ; 
and it was mutually agreed, that officers should be given 
for officers of equal rank, soldier for soldier, and citizen 
for citizen. Exchanges were effected upon this basis till 
the capture of General Lee. The British commander chose 
to consider that officer in the light of a pleserter from the 
King's service, although he had resigned his commission 
before he joined the American army ; and, in conformity 
with this view of his character, he was kept in more rig 
orous confinement than other prisoners of war. It was 
also understood, that he was to be tried by a court-martial. 
When these facts came to the knowledge of Congress, 
they thought it necessary, in support of their own digni 
ty, and for the protection of their officers who might fall 
into the enemy's hands, to adopt energetic and decisive 
measures* and immediately resolved on severe retaliation. 

Exchange of 

Air. 45.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 223 

They decreed, that Colonel Campbell, a British prisoner CHAPTER 
in Massachusetts, and five Hessian field-officers taken at 
Trenton, should be subjected to precisely the same treat 
ment as General Lee. The consequence was, that Col 
onel Campbell was confined in a common jail, and the 
Hessian officers, who had been sent to Virginia, were de 
prived of the privileges usually granted to prisoners of war. 

General Washington at once saw the injurious tendency Washington ' 
of this hasty and premature act of retaliation, and remon- retauatumT 
strated strenuously against it. " In point of policy," said March i. 
he, in a letter to the President of Congress, " under the 
present situation of our affairs, this doctrine cannot be 
supported. The balance of prisoners is greatly against 
us ; and a general regard to the happiness of the whole 
should mark our conduct. Can we imagine, that our en 
emies will not mete the same punishments, the same in 
dignities, the same cruelties, to those belonging to us, in 
their possession, that we impose on theirs in our power ? 
Why should we suppose them to possess more humanity 
than we have ourselves? Or why should an ineffectual 
attempt to relieve the distresses of one brave, unfortunate 
man, involve many more in the same calamities ? How 
ever disagreeable the fact may be, the enemy at this time 
have in their power, and subject to their call, near three 
hundred officers belonging to the army of the United 
States. In this number there are some of high rank ; and 
most of them are men of bravery and merit. The quota 
of theirs in our hands bears no proportion, being not more 
than fifty at most. Under these circumstances, we should 
certainly do no act to draw upon the gentlemen belong 
ing to us, and who have already suffered a long captivi 
ty, greater punishments than they have experienced and 
now experience. If we should, what will their feelings 
be, and those of their numerous and extensive connex 
ions ? Suppose the treatment prescribed for the Hessians 
should be pursued, will it not establish what the enemy 
have been aiming to effect by every artifice and the gross 
est misrepresentations, I mean, an opinion of our enmity 



. 45. 



of the pris 
oners in 
New York. 

Letter to 
Howe on the 
treatment of 

April 9. 

towards them, and of the cruel conduct they experience 
when they fall into our hands, a prejudice which we on 
our part have heretofore thought it politic to suppress, 
and to root out by every act of lenity and kindness ? It 
certainly will. The Hessians would hear of the punish 
ment with all the circumstances of heightened exaggera 
tion, would feel the injury, without investigating the 
cause, or reasoning upon the justice or necessity of it. 
The mischiefs, which may and must inevitably flow from 
the execution of the resolves, appear to be endless and 

On the other hand the American prisoners, who had 
been taken at Fort Washington and confined in New 
York during the winter, had endured such sufferings as 
to excite universal indignation, and reflect reproach on the 
British commander. This is not the place to investigate 
the causes ; but the fact is indisputable. A large propor 
tion of them sunk under their sufferings and died ; and, 
when others were sent out for exchange in the spring, 
they were so much emaciated and broken down, so totally 
unfit for service, that General Washington refused to re 
turn for them an equal number of healthy British or 
Hessian prisoners. Sir William Howe said this refusal 
was a violation of the rule for exchange, which had been 
agreed upon between them ; and, although he could not 
deny the facts, yet he declared the prisoners had been 
treated as well as his circumstances would permit, and 
been provided with every thing necessary for their com 
fort. General Washington replied j 

"You must be sensible, that our engagement, as well 
as all others of the kind, though in the letter it expresses 
only an equality of rank and number, as the rule of ex 
change, yet necessarily implies a regard to the general 
principles of mutual compensation and advantage. This 
is inherent in its nature, is the voice of reason ; and no 
stipulation, as to the condition in which prisoners should 
be returned, was requisite. Humanity dictated, that their 
treatment should be such, as their health and comfort 

J&r. 45.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 225 

demanded ; and, where her laws have been duly re- CHAPTER 
spected, their condition has been generally good. Nor 
is this the language of humanity alone; justice declares 
the same. The object of every cartel, or similar agree 
ment, is the benefit of the prisoners themselves, and that 
of the contending powers. On this footing, it equally 
exacts, that they should be well treated, as well as that 
they should be exchanged. The reverse is, therefore, an 
evident infraction, arid ought to subject the party, on 
vnom it is chargeable, to all the damage and ill conse 
quences resulting from it. Nor can it be expected, that 
those unfitted for future service by acts of severity, in 
direct violation of a compact, are proper subjects for an 
exchange. In such case, to return others not in the same 
predicament, would be to give without receiving an equiv 
alent ; and would afford the greatest encouragement to 
cruelty and inhumanity. The argument, drawn from the 
mere circumstance of the prisoners having been received, 
is of no validity. Though, from their wretched situation, 
they could not, at that time, be deemed proper for an 
exchange, yet our humanity required, that they should 
be permitted to return among us. 

" It may, perhaps, be fairly doubted, whether an appre 
hension of their death, or that of a great part of them, 
did not contribute somewhat to their being sent out when 
they were. Such an event, whilst they remained with 
you, would have been truly interesting ; because it would 
have destroyed every shadow of claim for a return of 
the prisoners in our hands; and therefore policy, concur 
ring with humanity, dictated that the measure should be 
adopted. Happy had it been, if the expedient had been 
thought of before these ill-fated men were reduced to 
such extremity. It is confessed, however, on all sides, 
that, after their delivery, they still continued your pris 
oners, and would be so till regularly exchanged. 

" I acknowledge, that I should, and I have been al 
ways willing, notwithstanding this concession, to account 
for every man, who was in a proper condition and fit 



[JEr. 45 


Conduct of 



CHAPTER to be exchanged at the time he came out, so far as the 
proportion of prisoners with us would extend. With what 
propriety, or upon what foundation of justice, can more 
be demanded? This has been proposed, or, what is the 
same, was most clearly implied in the first article or ob 
jection made by Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison, and illiber 
ally rejected since, ' as inconsistent with any degree of 
reason or common sense.' Painful as it is, I am com 
pelled to consider it as a fact not to be questioned, that 
the usage of our prisoners, whilst in your possession, of 
the privates at least, was such as could not be justified. 
This was proclaimed by the concurrent testimony of all 
who came out ; their appearance sanctioned the assertion ; 
and melancholy experience, in the speedy death of a large 
part of them, stamped it with infallible certainty." 

These difficulties interrupted for some time the exchange 
of prisoners. It should nevertheless be said, to the credit 
of Sir William Howe, that the retaliatory act of Congress 
did not influence his conduct towards the American pris 
oners ; and it should also be added, that a want of hu 
manity was never alleged to be a trait of his character. 
The sufferings of the unfortunate men in New York 
were probably to be attributed more to his inattention, 
than to any direct order; but this apology, if indeed it 
can be called an apology, is far from amounting to a jus 
tification. He wrote a state of the affair to the British 
government, particularly respecting General Lee ; and the 
ministry decided that he should thenceforward be retained 
as a prisoner of war, although they had previously transmit 
ted an order requiring him to be sent to England. This 
change of purpose was dictated by policy, General Howe 
having intimated that any evil, which might befall the 
Hessian officers in consequence of the detention of Gen 
eral Lee, would have a bad effect on the troops of that 
nation serving in America. 

The winter passed away, and the spring was far ad 
vanced before the British commander gave any indications 
of his designs for the campaign. His reinforcements from 


Europe arrived later, and in smaller numbers, than he an- CHAPTER 
ticipated; and he was obliged to curtail the plans, which Xt 
he had suggested to the ministry the preceding autumn. 1777. 

That he might not seem to be idle, he sent up the Military 
Sound a detachment of two thousand men under Gover- Daibu? y 
nor Tryon, who landed in Connecticut, marched into the 
country, and destroyed the public stores at Danbury. 
They were bravely met by the militia and a few Con 
tinental troops, who harassed them on their march, and 
pursued them back to their boats. In the rencounters 
with the enemy on their retreat, General Wooster and 
General Arnold were wounded. The former died of his 

At length General Howe enlarged his force at Bruns- British force 
wic, and began to build a bridge there, so constructed as New'jerse?. 
to be laid on flat-boats, which it was supposed he intend 
ed to transport over land* to the Delaware, and use in 
crossing that river. Meantime General Washington col 
lected at Morristown the troops, which had been enlisted 
into the new army in Virginia and the middle States, and 
ordered those from the eastward to assemble at Peekskill 
on the Hudson. The want of arms, hitherto severely 
felt, was opportunely supplied by the arrival of two vessels 
from France, containing twenty-four thousand muskets. 

Near the* end of May he drew his main army to a skirmishing 
very strong position at Middlebrook, only nine miles from twoTarmiS! 
Brunswic, and prepared to contest the passage of the ene- June . 
my, should they attempt to move towards the Delaware. 
On the 13th of June, the British army marched from 
Brunswic, commanded by Sir William Howe in person, 
and stretched itself several miles into the country, well 
fortified on the right at Brunswic, and secured in front 
by the Rariton, and on the left by the Millstone. This 
position was occupied six days. The object of this ma 
noeuvre was to bring on a general action. Washington 
was too cautious, however, to be tempted into such a 
snare at a great disadvantage with his raw troops, but 
he determined to defend his ground in any event. Not 


CHAPTER choosing to run the hazard of an attack, General Howe 
x> returned with his whole army to Brunswic, and in a short 
i 77 ?. time evacuated that place and retreated to Amboy. Three 
regiments, detached under General Greene, fell upon his 
rear, pursued him as far as Piscataway, and did consider 
able execution. Washington then advanced towards the 
enemy with his main force to duibbletown. Finding 
him thus drawn from his strong post, Sir William Howe 
marched suddenly into the country with all his troops 
seven or eight miles to Westfield, evidently seeking to 
turn the American left, and gain the high grounds. To 
counteract this attempt, Washington retired again to Mid- 
dlebrook ; and the only result of these movements ,was 
some smart skirmishing between the advanced parties of 
the two armies, with little loss on either side. Thus foiled 
in all his manoeuvres for bringing on a general engagement, 
Sir William Howe crossed over 'to Staten Island, using for 
that purpose the floating bridge constructed at Brunswic, 
and entirely evacuated the Jerseys. 

Designs of The very next day Washington received the first intel- 

the enemy 

uncertain, ligencc, that Burgoyne was approaching Ticonderoga with 
a formidable army. For some time it had also been re 
ported by spies and deserters, that a fleet of large vessels 
and transports was preparing in the harbor of New York, 
with the apparent object of an expedition by water. *At 
first it was not doubted, that this armament was destin 
ed against Philadelphia. But the news from the north 
cast a cloud of uncertainty over all the enemy's schemes. 
It now seemed more probable, that concerted operations 
between Howe and Burgoyne were in view, and that the 
former would speedily ascend the Hudson to form a junc 
tion with the latter. The fitting out of the fleet, it was 
supposed, might have the double aim of a feint to de 
ceive the Americans into a belief that some distant oper 
ation by sea was intended, and of actually preparing to 
transport troops up the Hudson. It was likewise conjec 
tured, that an attack on New England was meditated, 
with the view of creating a diversion in favor of Bur- 


goyne ; and this was in fact a part of Howe's original CHAPTER 
plan, which he abandoned in consequence of the deficien- x * 
cy of his reinforcements from Europe. 1777. 

This state of things was peculiarly embarrassing to Wash- Burgoyne'. 


mgton. While it was necessary for him to watch every 
point, it was still more so, that he should be at hand to 
meet the blow wherever it should be struck. The great 
object, at which the British had been aiming from the 
beginning of the war, namely, a possession of Hudson's 
River and the communication with Canada, thus separat 
ing the eastern and southern States, was so important, that 
he could not doubt this to be the special intent of Bur- 
goyne's expedition ; and yet he had seen so many evi 
dences of General Howe's designs upon Philadelphia, that 
he was unable to relinquish his conviction of their reality. 
The immediate danger, however, was on the Hudson, to 
guard against which he despatched two regiments to Peeks- 
kill, and prepared to follow with his whole army. 

This movement required caution and delay ; for, should The army 
he withdraw his force too soon from the centre of Jersey, Hudson, and 
Sir William Howe might land his troops at South Am- totheDei*- 
boy, and march to Philadelphia before he could be over 
taken. But, when it was known, that the enemy had 
actually embarked on board the fleet, Washington moved 
slowly towards the Highlands by way of Morristown and 
Ramapo, advancing as far as the Clove, and at the same 
time detaching Lord Stirling with a division to Peekskill. 
At this juncture the fleet dropped down to the Hook and 
went to sea. Waiting no longer than to be convinced of 
the absolute departure of the fleet, he immediately be 
gan to retrace his steps. The two divisions under Sulli 
van and Stirling, which had crossed the Hudson to Peeks- 
kill, were recalled, and the army pursued various routes 
to the banks of the Delaware. There he resolved to stay 
till he should receive further intelligence of the British 
fleet ; for it was still possible that it might return to New 
York, and ascend the Hudson. 

News soon came, however, that it had been seen at 




[VEr. 45. 



inarches to 

ton's first 
with Lafay 

to a com 
mand in the 

July 81. 

the Capes of the Delaware, and its destination was then 
thought to be no longer doubtful. The army marched to 
Germantown, where it would be in readiness to defend 
the city of Philadelphia, and the General himself hastened 
forward to Chester. He there learned that the fleet had 
left the Capes and steered eastward. All his calculations 
were again baffled ; for it was naturally inferred from the 
course taken by the fleet, that General Howe would either 
go directly back to New York, or to some place on the 
coast of New England, and cooperate with Burgoyne. Till 
this point was settled by certain information, nothing could 
be done. The army continued at Germantown, prepared 
to march at a moment's warning, except Sullivan's divis 
ion and some other regiments, which were ordered to 
take post in New Jersey. 

During this suspense General Washington passed two 
or three days in Philadelphia, holding conferences with 
committees and members of Congress. It was here that 
he had his first interview with the Marquis de Lafayette. 
The enthusiastic zeal with which that young nobleman 
had embraced the American cause, his romantic adven 
tures in leaving his own country and crossing the Atlan 
tic, and the incidents which befell him on his arrival, 
are well known ; and the part he acted during the war, 
his influence in gaining effectual aid from the French 
government, his deep and lasting attachment to Washing 
ton, the ardor and consistency with which he adhered to 
the interests of his adopted country to the end of his 
life, and the affection which the people of that country 
have ever manifested for his person and character, all con 
spire to make the day on which he entered the service 
one of the most remarkable in the revolution. 

When Lafayette arrived in Philadelphia, he put his let 
ters into the hands of Mr. Lovell, Chairman of the Com 
mittee of Foreign Affairs. He called the next day at the 
Hall of Congress, and Mr. Lovell came out to him and 
said, that so many foreigners had offered themselves for 
employment, that Congress was embarrassed with their 

!.T. 45.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 231 

applications, and he was sorry to inform him there was CHAPTER 
very little hope of his success. Lafayette suspected his x ' 
papers had not been read, and he immediately sat down 1777. 
and wrote a note to the President of Congress, in which 
he desired to be permitted to serve in the American army 
on two conditions ; first, that he should receive no pay ; 
secondly, that he should act as a volunteer. These terms 
were so different from those demanded by other foreign 
ers, and presented so few obstacles on the ground of an 
interference with American officers, that they were at once 
accepted. His rank, zeal, perseverance, and disinterested 
ness overcame every objection, and he was appointed a 
major-general in the American army, more than a month 
before he had reached the age of twenty. 

Washington was expected shortly in Philadelphia, and Terms of m- 


the younar general concluded to await his arrival before between 

. Washington 

he went to head-quarters. The first introduction was at andLafav 


a dinner party, where several members of Congress were 
present. When they were about to separate, Washington 
took Lafayette aside, spoke to him very kindly, compli 
mented him upon the noble spirit he had shown, and the 
sacrifices he had made, in favor of the American cause, 
and then told him that he should be pleased if he would 
make the quarters of the Commander-in-chief his home, es 
tablish himself there whenever he thought proper, and con 
sider himself at all times as one of his family ; adding, 
in a tone of pleasantry, that he could not promise him 
the luxuries of a court, or even the conveniences, which 
his former habits might have rendered essential to his com 
fort, but, since he had become an American soldier, he 
would doubtless contrive to accommodate himself to the 
character he had assumed, and submit with a good grace 
to the customs, manners, and privations of a republican 
army. If Lafayette was made happy by his success with 
Congress, his joy was redoubled by this nattering proof 
of friendship and regard on the part of the Commander- 
in-chief. His horses and equipage were immediately sent 
to camp ; and ever afterwards, even when he had the 


CHAPTER command of a division, he kept up his intimacy at head- 
x quarters, and enjoyed all the advantages of a member of 
1777> the General's family. The day after the dinner, Wash 
ington inspected the fortifications in the Delaware River, 
and invited Lafayette to accompany him. 
Army For several days nothing was heard of the fleet, till it 

marches to _ , . . 

Wilmington, was seen again near the coast about sixteen leagues south 
of the Capes of Delaware. This was a proof, that it was 
really bound to the southward ; and, as ten days passed 
without any other intelligence, the opinion began to pre 
vail, that it was gone to Charleston. So thoroughly was 
this belief impressed upon Washington and his officers, 
that a council decided it to be expedient to march to 
wards the Hudson, and either act against Burgoyne, or 
attack New York. This decision was approved by Con 
gress ; but, the very day on which the army was to march, 
an express arrived with intelligence, that the fleet was 
coming up the Chesapeake Bay, and had already ascend 
ed two hundred miles from its mouth. All uncertainty 
was now at an end. No one doubted the designs of Sir 
William Howe against Philadelphia, though, as Washing 
ton said, the route he had chosen was " a very strange 
one." The detachments were recalled from New Jersey, 
where Sullivan had employed them in an unsuccessful en 
terprise against Staten Island, and the whole army march 
ed to Wilmington. 

British land The reconnoitring parties soon reported the enemy to 
f Eik. ' have landed below the Head of Elk. The American 
troops were posted at Red Clay Creek, a few miles be 
yond Wilmington, the pickets being advanced to Chris 
tiana Bridge. There was constant skirmishing between 
the light parties of the opposing armies, in which the 
Americans behaved with spirit, gained some advantages, 
and took about sixty prisoners. When General Howe had 
landed all his men, artillery, and baggage, his movements 
indicated an intention to outflank the American right ; 
and Washington retired from his position at Red Clay 
Creek, crossed the Brandywine, and took possession of the 


high ground near Chad's Ford. His right wing, so post- CHAPTER 
ed as to guard the fords above, was commanded by Gen- _ _ 
eral Sullivan ; and the Pennsylvania militia, under Gen 
eral Armstrong, was stationed on the left about two miles 
At the same time the British advanced to Kennet Square, 

seven miles from Chad's Ford. At daybreak, on the morn- wine. 
ing of the llth of September, Sir William Howe put his sept. n. 
army in motion in two divisions ; one, under Knyphausen, 
taking the direct road to Chad's Ford ; the other, led by 
Lord Cornwallis, moving along the Lancaster road, which 
ran for several miles nearly parallel with the Brandywine 
River. Sir William Howe was with this division. As 
soon as Knyphausen's advanced parties approached near 
Chad's Ford, they were attacked by General Maxwell with 
a body of light troops, and a very sharp rencounter ensu 
ed; but the enemy's columns pressed forward, and Max 
well was compelled to retire. From this time Knyphau 
sen kept up a heavy fire of artillery, which was returned 
across the river ; but he made no serious attempt to pass 
the ford. Parties went over and skirmished, and there 
was brisk firing at different points, without much execu 
tion on either side. It was the plan of the Hessian gen 
eral to amuse the Americans in front, till Cornwallis should 
have time to gain their right flank and rear. 

This design was early suspected by Washington, and Movements 

3 3 ofComwal- 

he waited with extreme anxiety for intelligence from the i. 
patroles, who had been sent to watch the roads leading 
to the fords, which were all guarded as high up as the 
fork of the Brandywine, six or seven miles above Chad's 
Ford. At length, between eleven and twelve o'clock, 
a message came from General Sullivan, stating that a 
large body of the enemy had been discovered marching 
towards the upper fords. Washington ordered Sullivan to 
push over the river and meet that division, while he cross 
ed and attacked Knyphausen in front. Before this order 
could be executed, counter information was received. This 
contradiction and uncertainty caused the order to be sus- 
30 x* 


CHAPTER pended. A little after two o'clock, however, all doubt 
** was removed. Having taken a wide circuit of seventeen 
1777. miles and crossed two branches of the Brandywine above 
the fork, Cornwallis had gained the heights near Birming 
ham meeting-house, within two miles of Sullivan's right 
flank. Sullivan marched with the three divisions under 
his command, being his own, Stephen's, and Stirling's, 
and began to form his troops for action ; but, before the 
arrangement could be completed, Cornwallis opened the 
attack with such impetuosity, that after a short resistance 
the right of the American line was broken, the remain 
der thrown into confusion, and the whole forced to a 
precipitate retreat. Some of them rallied, and took an 
other stand, where they maintained a short and spirited 
conflict, till again driven by a greatly superior force from 
their ground. 

Reauitofthe The firing in this quarter was the signal for Knyphau- 
sen to cross the river, and assault the American intrench- 
ments at Chad's Ford. He was met by General Wayne, 
who defended the post with his usual gallantry ; but, at 
the head of a single division only, he was in no condition 
to withstand half the British army. General Greene with 
another division had removed to a central point between 
Chad's Ford and Sullivan's scene of action, where he 
could give support to either party as circumstances might 
require. Covering Sullivan's retreat, and seizing a pass 
about a mile from Dilworth, he checked the pursuit of 
the enemy, and sustained a warm engagement till dark. 
The firing then ceased. The British remained on the field 
of battle, and the Americans retreated in much disorder by 
different routes to Chester, where they all arrived in the 
course of the night. * 

* Deborre, a French general of thirty-five years' service, commanded 
in Sullivan's division the brigade, which first broke and gave way. 
Congress voted an inquiry into his conduct, at which he took umbrage 
and resigned his commission. In his letter to Congress, he complained 
of hard usage, averring that he did all in his power to rally his men, 
being wounded in the attempt, and said, if the American troops would 


The numbers engaged in this action have never been CHAPTER 
accurately ascertained. Chief Justice Marshall estimates Xt 
the British army, when it landed, at eighteen thousand 1777. 
men, healthy and well supplied with all the implements Numbers 
of war. He supposes the American army, including mili- ^faction! 
tia, amounted to fifteen thousand ; but, from sickness and 
other causes, he thinks the effective strength on the day 
of battle was not more than eleven thousand. Sir Wil 
liam Howe reported his loss to be ninety killed, four hun 
dred and eighty-eight wounded, and six missing. He 
stated that about three hundred Americans were killed, 
six hundred wounded, and four hundred taken. This 
could be only a conjectural estimate, since General Wash 
ington made no return of his. loss to Congress ; such a 
return being impracticable in the disconnected and moving 
condition of his army. The Marquis de Lafayette, while Laikyette 
dismounted and endeavoring to rally the troops, % was 
wounded in the leg, which caused him to retire from ac 
tive service for two months. 

The expediency of fighting this battle with a force so Motives for 

much inferior, and under many disadvantages, has been 
questioned by foreign writers. If the subject be viewed 
in a military light only, there may perhaps be just grounds 
for criticism. But it should be differently regarded. Gen 
eral Washington knew the expectation of the country and 
of Congress ; and he was persuaded, that a defeat would 
be less injurious in its effects on the public mind, than 
the permitting of the enemy to march to Philadelphia 
without opposition. He doubtless hoped to make a better 
resistance ; which he would have done, if he had not 
been -deceived by contradictory ir' " r 7ence in the time 
of battle, against which u< foresiLVi could guard. Al 
though some of his troops behaved ill, yet others, and 

run away, it was unjust to censure him for the consequences. There 
was some truth perhaps in this remonstrance; but Deborre, by his ig 
norance of the character and habits of the American people, had ren 
dered himself very unpopular in the army, and Congress accepted his 
resignation without reluctance. 



. 45. 



retreats to 

Sept. 12. 

with new 

the Schuyl- 
kill, and re 
tires to the 

Sept. 16. 

the larger part, fought with signal bravery, and inspired 
him and themselves with a confidence, which could have 
been produced only by the trial. 

The day after the action he retreated to Philadelphia, 
and encamped near Germantown. So far from being dis 
mayed by the late disaster, Congress were inspirited to 
new exertions, and resolved to strengthen the army and 
bring together all the means of defence in their power. 
Fifteen hundred Continental troops were ordered down 
from General Putnam's command on the Hudson, and the 
militia in Pennsylvania and the adjoining States were 
summoned to join the main army with all possible de 
spatch. Anticipating the necessity of removing from Phil 
adelphia, Congress again invested General Washington 
with extraordinary powers. He was authorized to suspend 
officers, who should misbehave, and fill up vacancies ; to 
take provisions and other articles for the subsistence and 
comfort of the army within seventy miles of head-quarters, 
paying or giving certificates for the same ; and to remove, 
or secure for the benefit of the owners, all goods and 
effects, which might be serviceable to the enemy. This 
last clause was of special importance j as a great number 
of disaffected persons in and around Philadelphia would 
take no pains to withdraw their property, preferring that 
it should fall into the hands and contribute to the sup 
plies of the enemy. 

' After allowing his men one day for rest and refresh 
ment, Washington returned across the Schuylkill, and 
took the Lancaster road leading to the left of the British 
army, fully determined to offer battle. This bold step, 
taken before the enemy had left the field of action at the 
Brandywine, was a proof that the late repulse had in no 
degree unsettled his own resolution, or damped the ardor 
of his troops. The two armies met twenty-three miles 
from Philadelphia, and an engagement was actually begun 
between the advanced parties, when a heavy rain came 
on and rendered both armies totally unfit to pursue the 
contest. Washington retired to the Yellow Springs, but 


was not followed by the British ; and he finally passed CHAPTER 
over the Schuylkill at Parker's Ford. The account of x 
these movements is best related in his own words. 1777. 

" The enemy," he says, " by a variety of perplexing Particular* 
manoeuvres through a country from which I could not movements, 
derive the least intelligence (being to a man disaffected), sept. 23. 
contrived to pass the Schuylkill last night at the Fatland 
and other fords in the neighborhood of it. They marched 
immediately towards Philadelphia, and I imagine their ad 
vanced parties will be near that city to-night. They had 
so far got the start before I received certain intelligence 
that any considerable number had crossed, that I found it 
in vain to think of overtaking their rear, with troops 
harassed as ours had been with constant marching since 
the battle of Brandywine. 

" When I last recrossed the Schuylkill, it was with a 
firm intent of giving the enemy battle wherever I should 
meet them ; and accordingly I advanced as far as the 
Warren Tavern upon the Lancaster road, near which place 
the two armies were upon the point of coming to a gen 
eral engagement, but were prevented by a most violent 
flood of rain, which continued all the day and following 
night. When it held up, we had the mortification to find 
that our ammunition, which had been completed to forty 
rounds a man, was entirely ruined ; and in that situation 
we had nothing left for it, but to find out a strong piece 
of ground, which we could easily maintain till we could 
get the arms put in order, and a recruit of ammunition. 
Before this could be fully effected, the enemy marched 
from their position near the White Horse Tavern, down 
the road leading to the Swedes 7 Ford. I immediately 
crossed the Schuylkill above them, and threw myself full 
in their front, hoping to meet them on their passage, or 
soon after they had passed the river. The day before 
yesterday they were again in motion, and marched rapidly 
up the road leading towards Reading. This induced me 
to believe that they had two objects in view ; one to get 
round the right of the army, the other perhaps to detach 



. 45. 


Congress ad 
journ to 
and York- 

Battle of 

October 4. 

parties to Reading, where we had considerable quantities 
of military stores. To frustrate those intentions, I moved 
the army up on this side of the river to this place, de 
termined to keep pace with them ; but early this morn 
ing I received intelligence, that they had crossed the fords 
below. Why I did not follow immediately, I have men 
tioned in the former part of my letter ; but the strongest 
reason against being able to make a forced march is the 
want of shoes. Messieurs Carroll, Chase, and Penn, who 
were some days with the army, can inform Congress in 
how deplorable a situation the troops are, for want of 
that necessary article. At least one thousand men are 
barefooted, and have performed the marches in. that con 

Congress adjourned first to Lancaster, and then to York- 
town in Pennsylvania, where they continued eight months, 
till Philadelphia was evacuated by the enemy. Immedi 
ately after the British entered the city, Lord Howe went 
out of the Chesapeake with his fleet and came round into 
the Delaware, intending to force the strong defences in 
that river, and ascend to Philadelphia. To aid in this 
undertaking a detachment of British troops was stationed 
on the left bank of the river in New Jersey. The larger 
part of the army was encamped at Germantown, the re 
mainder being in the city. 

In this divided state of Sir William Howe's forces, 
Washington conceived the plan of attacking him by sur 
prise. The British encampment extended across the vil 
lage of Germantown, and at right angles with the main 
road. The American army was near Skippack Creek, about 
fourteen miles distant. At seven o'clock, in the evening 
of the 3d of October, the march began, and by the order 
of battle the troops were to approach the enemy by four 
routes, it being expected that the whole would arrive 
nearly at the same time. The divisions of Sullivan and 
Wayne, flanked by Conway's brigade, were to enter the 
town by the road leading to the enemy's centre ; while 
Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, was to take the 


road on the right near the Schuylkill, and gain their left CHAPTER 
and rear. The divisions of Greene and Stephen, flanked x ' 
by M c Dougall's brigade, were to make a circuit on the 177 7. 
American left, and attack the British right wing, while 
the Maryland and Jersey militia, under Smallwood and 
Forman, were to move down by a road still farther to 
the left, and fall upon their right flank and rear. The 
plan was extremely well concerted, and the surprise was 
complete. The attack commenced between daybreak and 
sunrise. At first the action was very warm in the centre, 
and afterwards on the American left, and every thing 
seemed to promise success ; but the Americans were ulti 
mately obliged to retreat, and leave the enemy in posses 
sion of the ground. Washington speaks of this event as 
follows, in a letter to his brother. 

" After the 'enemy had crossed the Schuylkill, we took washing. 
the first favorable opportunity of attacking them. This count of the 
was attempted by a night's march of fourteen miles to 
surprise them, which we effectually did, so far as to reach 
their guards before they had notice of our coming ; and, 
if it had not been for a thick fog, which rendered it so 
dark at times that we were not able to distinguish friend 
from foe at the distance of thirty yards, we should, I 
believe, have made a decisive and glorious day of it. But 
Providence designed it otherwise ; for, after we had driven 
the enemy a mile or two, after they were in the utmost 
confusion, and flying before us in most places, after we 
were upon the point, as it appeared to everybody, of 
grasping a complete victory, our own troops took fright 
and fled with precipitation and disorder. How to account 
for this, I know not ; unless, as I before observed, the 
fog represented their own friends to them for a reinforce 
ment of the enemy, as we attacked in different quarters 
at the same time, and were about closing the wings of 
our army when this happened. One thing, indeed, con 
tributed not a little to our misfortune, and that was a 
want of ammunition on the right wing, which began the 
engagement, and in the course of two hours and forty 



|>ET. 45. 

Loss in the 

CHAPTER minutes, which time it lasted, had, many of them, ex- 
x> pended the forty rounds, that they took into the field. 
1777. After the engagement we removed to a place about twen 
ty miles from the enemy, to collect our forces together, 
to take care of our wounded, get furnished with necessa 
ries again, and be in a better posture, either for offensive 
or defensive operations. We are now advancing towards 
the enemy again, being at this time within twelve miles 
of them. 

" Our loss in the late action was, in killed, wounded, 
and missing, about one thousand men, but, of the miss 
ing, many, I dare say, took advantage of the times, and 
deserted. General Nash of North Carolina was wounded, 
and died two or three days after. Many valuable offi 
cers of ours were also wounded, and some killed. In a 
word, it was a bloody day. Would to Heaven I could 
add, that it had been a more fortunate one for us." 

General Howe reported his loss to be seventy-one kill 
ed, four hundred and fifty wounded, and fourteen miss 
ing. The American loss, as stated by Dr. Gordon on the 
authority of the Board of War, was one hundred and fifty 
killed, five hundred and twenty-one wounded, and about 
four hundred prisoners. In the midst of the action, six 
companies of the fortieth British regiment, commanded by 
Colonel Mulgrave, took possession of Chew's House, a strong 
stone building, which they barricaded and defended with 
so much obstinacy, as to retard for some time the ad 
vance of the second line of the Americans, intended to 
support the centre; and, during this delay, Sullivan's di 
vision, which had been closely engaged in front, having 
mostly expended its ammunition, began to retreat, and, 
falling back upon the second line, threw it into disorder. 
This circumstance, added to the dense fog, is supposed to 
have contributed much to the unfortunate issue of the 

But the battle of Germantown was not without its good 
effects. It revived the hopes of the country by proving, 
that, notwithstanding the recent successes of the enemy, 

Affair at 



che battle. 


neither the spirit, resolution, and valor of the troops, nor CHAPTER 
the energy and confidence of the Commander, had suffer- ** 
ed any diminution. They were as prompt and eager to 1777. 
meet their adversaries in battle, as at the beginning of 
the campaign. Considered in its political relations, the 
event was not less important. When the American Com 
missioners in Paris had their first interview with Count 
de Vergennes to converse on a treaty of alliance, after 
complimenting them on the favorable prospects in Ameri 
ca, and the conduct of the American troops, he added, 
" that nothing struck him so much as General Washing 
ton's attacking and giving battle to General Howe's ar 
my ; that to bring an army, raised within a year, to this, 
promised every thing." It has been commonly supposed, 
that Burgoyne's defeat was the turning point with the 
French government in joining the United States against 
England, and probably it was ; but the above fact, re 
corded by one of the Commissioners at the time, shows 
that the operations of Washington's army had their due 
weight in the scale. 

The British fleet having entered the Delaware, every operations 

, in the Dela- 

exertion was made to remove the obstructions in the river, ware. 
and drive the Americans from their fortified posts. By 
the activity of the small naval armament under Commo 
dore Hazelwood, and the brave defence of Red Bank and 
Fort Miiflin, these efforts were resisted for more than six 
weeks, when a vastly superior force, both by land and 
water, compelled an evacuation of those places, and open 
ed a passage for the enemy's shipping to Philadelphia. 

Washington returned to his former station after the bat- Detachment 
tie of Germantown, and in a few days encamped in a jersey under 
strong position at Whitemarsh, fourteen miles from Phila- Greene, 
delphia. General Greene was ordered with a detachment November, 
into New Jersey to operate against Cornwallis, who had 
passed over with a large body of troops to aid in re 
ducing Fort Mercer at Red Bank. The Marquis de La 
fayette was a volunteer under Greene, and distinguished 
himself in a skirmish with the enemy at Gloucester Point, 
31 Y 


CHAPTER although his wound was not yet entirely healed. No 

* event of importance occurred. The British recrossed the 

1777. r iver to Philadelphia, and Greene joined the main army 

at Whitemarsh. A reinforcement likewise arrived from 

the north, consisting of Morgan's rifle corps and part of 

the New Hampshire and Massachusetts troops ; the sur 

render of Burgoyne, and the relinquishment by the British 

of their temporary acquisitions in the Highlands, rendering 

their services no longer necessary in that quarter. 

skirmish Sir William Howe, having received an accession to his 

at White- 

strength by several regiments from New York, thought a 
December s. good opportunity presented itself for trying his fortune 
in another battle, if he could find the Americans in such 
a condition as to attack them to advantage. He marched 
out of the city with twelve thousand men, in the evening 
of the 4th of December, and the next morning took post 
at Chesnut Hill, about three miles from the right of the 
American encampment. Washington sent out light troops 
to skirmish, but resolved to wait for the general attack 
on the ground he had chosen. This was an adventure, 
which General Howe was not inclined to hazard. After 
manoeuvring three days in the front and on the flanks 
of the American lines, seeking for an advantage which 
his opponent was careful not to give, he retreated sud 
denly to Philadelphia, having lost in the different ren 
counters twenty men killed, sixty-three wounded, and 
thirty-three missing. 

preparations The season being far advanced, and the troops worn 
quarters. down by the hard service of the campaign, it was thought 
necessary to make immediate preparations for winter quar 
ters. Many of the soldiers were suffering extremely for 
the want of clothes and shoes ; and even the supplies 
of provision and forage were obtained with difficulty. So 
great was the disaffection of the inhabitants, particularly 
after the British entered Philadelphia, that the larger por 
tion of them refused to sell their produce to the American 
contractors, some perhaps through fear of the enemy, oth 
ers from a sincere attachment to the royal cause ; and 


even the well affected were unwilling to part with their CHAPTER 
property upon so feeble a security as the certificates 
given on the authority of Congress. With his usual deli- 1777. 
cacy and caution, Washington was reluctant to exercise 
the powers with which he was intrusted to obtain sup 
plies from the people by forcible means. The soundest 
policy forbade this practice, as long as it could possibly 
be avoided. It alienated friends, and added a new mo 
tive for disaffection. 

" I confess," said he, in writing to the President of washing- 
Congress, "I have felt myself greatly embarrassed with cacyinthe 

exercise of 

respect to a vigorous exercise of military power. An ill- military 
placed humanity, perhaps, and a reluctance to give dis 
tress, may have restrained me too far ; but these were 
not all. I have been well aware of the prevalent jealousy 
of military power, and that this has been considered as 
an evil much to be apprehended, even by the best and 
most sensible among us. Under this idea, I have been 
cautious, and wished to avoid as much as possible any 
act that might increase it. However, Congress may be 
assured, that no exertions of mine, as far as circum 
stances will admit, shall be wanting to provide our own 
troops with supplies on the one hand, and to prevent the 
enemy from getting them on the other. At the same 
time they must be apprized, that many obstacles have 
arisen to render the former more precarious and difficult 
than they usually were, from the change in the com 
missary's department, at a very critical and interesting 
period. I should be happy, if the civil authority in the 
several States, through the recommendations of Congress, 
or their own mere will, seeing the necessity of supporting 
the army, would always adopt the most spirited measures, 
suited to the end. The people at large are governed 
much by custom. To acts of legislation or civil authority 
they have ever been taught to yield a willing obedience, 
without reasoning about their propriety ; on those of mili 
tary power, whether immediate or derived originally from 
another source, they have ever looked with a jealous or 
suspicious eye." 



[2Er. 45. 


for procur 
ing supplies 

opinions of 
the officers 

And again, " It will never answer to procure supplies 
of clothing or provision by coercive measures. The small 
seizures made of the former a few days ago, in conse 
quence of the most pressing and absolute necessity, when 
that, or to dissolve, was the alternative, excited the great 
est alarm and uneasiness even among our best and warm 
est friends. Such procedures may give a momentary 
relief; but, if repeated, will prove of the most pernicious 
consequence. Besides spreading disaffection, jealousy, ar\d 
fear among the people, they never fail, even in the most 
veteran troops under the most rigid and exact discipline, 
to raise in the soldiery a disposition to licentiousness, to 
plunder and robbery, difficult to suppress afterwards, and 
which has proved not only ruinous to the inhabitants, 
but, in many instances, to armies themselves. I regret 
tfye occasion that compelled us to the measure the other 
day ; and shall consider it among the greatest of our 
misfortunes, if we should be under the necessity of prac 
tising it again." 

These sentiments were not more the dictates of pol 
icy, than of wisdom and humanity. He adhered to them 
through the war, arid in no case resorted to coercive 
measures for procuring supplies, till every other method 
had proved unavailing. And, in the deference he paid 
to the rights of property, he was equally scrupulous, 
whether it belonged to persons suspected of disaffection, 
or to avowed and active friends. While the former com 
mitted no positive acts of hostility, but remained quietly 
at their homes, he considered them amenable to the civil 
authorities alone for their opinions and conduct, and not 
within the pale of military coercion. 

The officers differed widely in regard to the best mode 
of disposing of the army for the winter. Some advised 
that it should be quartered at Wilmington ; others recom 
mended the valley of Tredyfm, a few miles west of the 
Schuylkill, as the place of cantonment ; while others pre 
ferred a line of detached posts extending from Lancaster 
to Reading. The matter was largely discussed in a coun- 


cil of war, and elaborate arguments in writing were given CHAPTER 
for each of these dispositions. 

The opinions of the officers were so various and con- 1777. 
tradictorv, that the Commander was finally obliged to act 



accordmg to his own judgment, and on his own responsi- ley Forge. 
biiity. He decided to establish a fortified encampment Dec. is. 
at Valley Forge, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. 
The ground was covered with woods, and bounded on 
one side by the Schuylkill, and on the others by ridges 
of hills. He examined the site in person, and designated 
the particular parts in which each regiment was to be 
quartered. The army marched to this place, and, on the 
18th of December, orders were issued for building huts. 
Trees were felled for this purpose, and the huts were 
constructed with logs, the dimensions of each being six 
teen feet by fourteen. One hut was assigned to twelve 
privates, and one to a smaller number of officers, accord 
ing to their rank. A general officer was the sole tenant 
of a hut. These structures were arranged in parallel 
lines where the shape of the ground would admit, and, 
when the encampment was completed, it had the appear 
ance of a town with streets and avenues. Troops from 
the same State inhabited the same street or quarter. The 
whole encampment was surrounded on the land side by 
intrenchments ; and a bridge was thrown across the river 
to open a communication with the country in that direc 
tion. Here the army remained till the following June. 
A detachment was also stationed at Wilmington, to pro 
tect the State of Delaware from the incursions of the 
enemy's foraging parties. 

The command of the American armies, and the respon 
sibilities attending that high office, were not the only 
causes of vexation, which at this time harassed the mind 
of Washington.. Attempts were made by his public ad 
versaries, and by secret foes wearing the mask of friend 
ship, to destroy his influence and ruin his character. 

A pamphlet was published in London, containing a se 
ries of letters, purporting to have been written by him in 


CHAPTER the summer of 1776, and with his signature attached to 

x ' them. It was stated in the preface, that, when Fort Lee 

1777. was evacuated, General Washington's servant was left be- 

spuriousiet- hind indisposed; that in his possession was a small port- 

ters publish- . . 

ed in the manteau belonging to the General, in which, among other 
Washington, things of trifling value, were the drafts of several private 
letters to Mrs. Washington, Mr. Lund Washington, and 
Mr. Custis ; and that these had been transmitted to Eng 
land by an officer into whose hands they had fallen. This 
fiction was contrived to deceive the public into a belief 
of the genuineness of the letters, although i# reality not 
one of General Washington's servants, nor a single arti 
cle of his baggage, was taken by the enemy in the whole 
course of the war. Bat the tenor of the letters was the 
most insidious part of the fabrication. Washington is rep 
resented as expressing sentiments totally at variance with 
his conduct, and as deprecating the misguided zeal and 
rashness of Congress in declaring independence, and push 
ing the opposition to Great Britain to so perilous an ex 
tremity. The letters were reprinted in New York, and 
industriously circulated in various forms through the agen 
cy of disaffected persons. The disguise was too flimsy 
to cover so nefarious a purpose. Whatever credit they 
may have gained in England, they could have no influ 
ence on his countrymen, who understood his character. 
tneleTetters The author of these spurious epistles was never public- 
unknown. iy known. They were written with considerable art, and 
by a person acquainted with many particulars of General 
Washington's family concerns. It is probable, also, that 
parts of intercepted letters actually written by him were 
interwoven. He never thought the subject worthy of his 
notice, till near the end of his presidency, when a new edi 
tion of these same forgeries was palmed upon the public to 
gratify the spleen of a malignant party spirit, and to effect 
a purpose even more infamous than the one contemplated 
by their original author. He then declared them, in a 
letter to the Secretary of State, to be spurious and false. 
Conway's Whilst the enemies of his country were thus employed 

/Ex. 45.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 247 

in scattering the seeds of detraction and falsehood, the CHAPTER 
agents of faction were secretly at work, both in the army ** 
and in Congress, to disparage and undermine his reputa- 1777. 
tion. This conspiracy has been called Conway's Cabal, 
from the name of the individual who acted the most con 
spicuous part. The other prominent leaders were General 

iu the cabal. 

Gates and General Mifflin. The causes and origin of the 
disaffection of these officers to the Commander-in-chief 
have not been explained. When they joined the service, 
at the beginning of the war, they professed to be his 
friends, and probably were such. It was mainly at his 
instance, that General Gates received his first appointment. 
Being an Englishman by birth, some of the members of 
Congress had scruples on the subject, thinking their cause 
would be safest in the charge of native Americans, both 
on account of their influence over the people, and of the 
ardor and sincerity of their patriotism. These scruples 
were waved, however, in favor of Gates and Charles Lee, 
and in each case at the solicitation of "Washington, who 
had confidence in their attachment to American liberty, 
and believed important aid might be derived from their 
military skill and experience. 

The first symptoms of discontent are supposed to have supposed 
been manifested at Cambridge. Gates was adjutant-general 
of the army, with the rank of brigadier. Mifflin went 
there as aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-chief, by whom, 
under the authority of Congress, he was appointed quar 
termaster-general, with the rank of colonel. After the or 
ganization of the first Continental army, Gates applied for 
the command of a brigade, and Mifflin of a regiment. 
These requests were declined by Washington, on the 
ground, in the first place, that the duties of their offices 
required their whole attention, and, in the next, that such 
an indulgence would interfere with the just claims of 
other officers. This refusal is thought to have given an 
offence, that was not forgotten. It is certain, that, after 
the army marched from Cambridge, General Gates made 
interest with Congress to be employed at a distance from 



. 45. 



Washington's immediate command, and continued to do 
so ; and the correspondence with him on the part of 
Gates, made necessary by his official relation to the Com 
mander-in-chief, so far from being cordial and friendly, 
was marked with " an air of design, a want of candor in 
many instances, and even of politeness." These are the 
words of Washington, contained -in a letter to the Presi 
dent of Congress three years after the army left Cam 
bridge, and they are verified by the correspondence since 

Conway, by birth an Irishman, had been in the French 
service from his youth, and founded his claim to consid 
eration on the circumstance of his being an officer of thirty 
years' experience. He joined the army at Morristown, hav 
ing the rank of brigadier, by the appointment of Congress. 
Of all the men in the world he was the last to concili 
ate the favor of Washington. Boastful, presumptuous, and 
intriguirig, bent on pushing his fortune, and looking only 
to personal aggrandizement, he was unprincipled in regard 
to the means and reckless of consequences. Abundant 
proofs of these traits of character and of sinister aims were 
exhibited during the campaign ; and, when it was rumor 
ed that Conway was to be promoted, Washington wrote 
to a member of Congress a letter of strong remonstrance 
against it, assigning his reasons without reserve. The 
success of the northern army, in the capture of Burgoyne, 
was the signal for the malecontents to assume a bolder 
attitude in prosecuting their machinations. Anonymous 
letters were sent to the President of Congress and the 
Governor of Virginia, filled with insinuations, complaints, 
and exaggerated statements, and ascribing all the misfor 
tunes of the campaign to the incapacity, or ill-timed Fa 
bian policy, of the Commander-in-chief. It was affirmed, 
with as much effrontery as falsehood, that his force had 
been three or four times as large as that opposed to him ; 
and no pains were spared to make it appear, that all his 
plans and operations evinced a want of military knowl 
edge, judgment, and decision. 


These artifices, though practised in secret for a time, CHAPTER 
were well known to Washington. His scrutinizing obser- x - 

vation easily penetrated the designs of those, who acted 1777. 
under the cloak of a pretended attachment ; and his real 

friends, moved not less by a sense of duty to their coun- partorcon- 

way's letter 

try, than of justice to him, took care to put him on his to Gates. 
guard, and to acquaint him with the intrigues of the ca 
bal, as far as they could be ascertained from overt acts, 
or inferred from less obvious indications. The affair was 
at length brought to his notice in a definite shape. When 
Colonel Wilkinson, one of Gates's aids-de-camp, was on 
his way from Saratoga to Congress, as bearer of despatches 
announcing the capitulation of Burgoyne, he stopped at 
the quarters of Lord Stirling, who was then at Reading. 
In a free conversation while there, Wilkinson repeated 
part of a letter, which Gates had received from Conway, 
containing strictures on the management of the army un 
der Washington, accompanied with disparaging reflections. 
Prompted by patriotism and friendship, Lord Stirling com 
municated to him an extract from the letter as repeated 
by Wilkinson. A correspondence on the subject followed 
between Washington, Gates, and Conway. The genuine 
ness of the extract was denied, but the letter itself was 
never produced. Two or three persons afterwards saw it 
in confidence, among whom was Mr. Laurens, President 
of Congress ; and, although the words proved not to be 
exactly the same, yet the tenor and spirit of the letter 
were accurately reported. The transaction, and the inci 
dents springing from it, could not long be concealed from 
the officers of the army. Rumors respecting them went 
abroad, and the public sentiment was expressed in a tone 
so unequivocal and decided, as to discourage the instiga 
tors ; and their schemes were abandoned, before they 
had produced any of the fatal mischiefs, which must 
inevitably have followed, if their ambitious hopes had 
been realized. 

There is no reason to suppose, that any of the officers A party in 

were directly implicated in the cabal, except Gates, Mif- fa 



[JEr. 45. 

CHAPTER flin, and Conway. That a considerable party in Congress 
x> favored the projects of these men is evident from the 
1777. proceedings of that body for several months. After the 
capitulation at Saratoga, Gates forwarded the official ac 
count of the event to Congress, without communicating 
the intelligence in any shape to the Commander-in-chief, 
which his duty as an officer and the common rules of 
courtesy required him to do ; and Congress never intimat 
ed their dissatisfaction with this breach of decorum, and 
marked disrespect to the commander of their armies, whose 
authority they were bound to support. Nearly at the 
same time Congress instituted a new Board of War, to 
which were granted large powers, and of which Gates 
and Miffiin were appointed members, Gates being placed 
at its head. 

projected One of the first acts of this board was a projected ex- 

to Canada, pedition to Canada, planned by Gates, and approved by 
Congress, without consulting Washington in the least of 
its particulars. The first intimation he had of it was in 
a letter from the Board of War, enclosing another to 
Lafayette, informing him of his being appointed to the 
command of the expedition. It was the design of this 
stroke of policy to bring over Lafayette to the interests 
of the faction. They had little knowledge of his charac 
ter. He was not to be deceived nor cajoled. He carried 
the letter to Washington, told him that he saw through 
the artifice, and should decline. Washington replied, that 
he knew not the object of the expedition, nor how it was 
to be carried into effect, but the appointment was an hon 
orable one, which would place him in a conspicuous sta 
tion, where he would in any event acquit himself with 
credit ; for, if the enterprise should fail, he was persuaded 
his conduct would be such as to save him from faults 
and screen him from censure, and the responsibility would 
rest with its projectors. Yielding to this advice, he ac 
ceded to the proposal, went to Albany, where he had 
been promised that troops and every thing necessary should 
be provided, and, after waiting there three months, his 

&T. 45.] LIFEOFWASH1NGTON. 25 1 

patience being exhausted and all his hopes defeated, as CHAPTEK 
the Board of War did nothing to fulfil their promise x> 

or promote the expedition, he returned to the camp at 1777. 
Valley Forge. * 

And it might here be recorded to the honor of La- Magnant- 

., / -i i mous con- 

fayette, if indeed his whole career in America was not duct of La- 

., fayette. 

a noble monument to his honor, his generosity, and un 
wavering fidelity to every trust reposed in him, that from 
the very first he resisted every attempt that was made 
by the flatteries of Conway, and the artifices of others, 
to bring him into the league. In the earliest stage of 
the cabal, before it had been whispered to the public, he 
wrote to Washington, stating his opinion of Conway, and 
his fears for the unhappy consequences that might flow 
from his conduct. " I need not tell you," said he, " how Dec. so 
sorry I am at what has happened ; it is a necessary result 
of my tender and respectful friendship for you, which is 
as true and candid as the other sentiments of my heart, 
and much stronger than so new an acquaintance might 
seem to admit. But another reason for my concern is 
my ardent and perhaps enthusiastic wish for the happi- 

* Before Lafayette commenced his journey to Albany, he rode to 
Yorktown, for the purpose of making arrangements with the Board of 
War. As soon as he arrived, he called on General Gates, whom he 
found surrounded by his friends seated at a dinner-table. They greet 
ed him with much cordiality. He joined them at the table, the wine 
passed round, and several toasts were given. Determined not to act 
under disguise, and to take the first opportunity of letting his senti 
ments be known, he called to them, just as they were about to rise, 
and observed that one toast had been omitted, which he would propose. 
The glasses were filled, and he gave as a toast, " The Commander-in- 
chief of the .American armies." It is needless to say, that it was coldly 
received ; and it is possible, that this early and bold avowal of his pre 
dilections had some influence in damping the ardor, with which the 
leaders of the faction had planned this abortive Canada expedition. 
Conway was appointed second in command ; but Lafayette insisted that 
the Baron de Kalb, in whom he had confidence, should be one of the 
officers, which was granted, but not without evident reluctance. Baron 
de Kalb, being higher in rank than Conway, was thus the second in 
command, and Conway the third. 


CHAPTER ness and liberty of this country. I see plainly that Amer- 

. *' ica can defend herself, if proper measures are taken ; but 

1777. I begin to fear that she may be lost by herself and her 
own sons." And again in conclusion he added ; " My 
desire of deserving your approbation is strong ; and, when 
ever you shall employ me, you can be certain of my try 
ing every exertion in my power to succeed. I am now 
bound to your fate, and I shall follow it and sustain it, 
as well by my sword as by all the means in my power." 
To this pledge he was ever true. * 
Washington Standing firm in his integrity, Washington took no 

takes no . _",. 

pains to pains to counteract these machinations of his enemies, 

counteract 11- ,.,. . 

the schemes and, whatever may have been his regret and indignation 
e8 - at such evidences of ingratitude and perfidy, he did not 

allow them to disturb his equanimity, or to turn him in 
the least degree from his lofty purpose of serving his 
country in the sphere allotted to him with the disinterest 
edness, diligence, and ardor, that characterized his public 
life in every vicissitude of events. In a letter to Presi 
dent Laurens, who had enclosed to him an anonymous 
communication of a very insidious tendency, which he 

* The following extract from a letter written by Lafayette to Baron 
Steuben, while the faction was at its height, affords an additional proof 
of his warm and generous friendship for Washington. It was dated 
at Albany, on the 12th of March, 1778. Baron Steuben had recently 
arrived in the country. 

"Permit me," said Lafayette, "to express my satisfaction at your 
having seen General Washington. No enemies to that great man 
can be found, except among the enemies to his country ; nor is it 
possible for any man of a noble spirit to refrain from loving the ex 
cellent qualities of his heart. I think I know him as well as any 
person, and such is the idea which I have formed of him. His hon 
esty, his frankness, his sensibility, his virtue, to the full extent in 
which this word can be understood, are above all praise. It is not 
for me to judge of his military talents ; but, according to my imper 
fect knowledge of these matters, his advice in council has always 
appeared to me the best, although his modesty prevents him sometimes 
from sustaining it; and his predictions have generally been fulfilled. I 
am the more happy in giving you this opinion of my friend, with all 
the sincerity which I feel, because some persons may perhaps attempt 
to deceive you on this point" 


had received, and which the writer designed for Congress, CHAPTER 

Washington wrote as follows. * 

"I cannot sufficiently express the obligation I feel to 1778. 

you, for your friendship and politeness upon an occasion Letter to the 

: ' , T x r President of 

in which I am so deeply interested. I was not unap- congress, 
prized, that a malignant faction had been for some time January a. 
forming to my prejudice ; which, conscious as I am of 
having ever done all in my power to answer the impor 
tant purposes of the trust reposed in me, could not but 
give me some pain on a personal account. But my chief 
concern arises from an apprehension of the dangerous 
consequences, which intesjtine dissensions may produce to 
the common cause. 

"As I have no other view than to promote the pub 
lic good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in 
the approbation of my country, I would not desire in 
the least degree to suppress a free spirit of inquiry into 
any part of my conduct, that even faction itself may 
deem reprehensible. The anonymous paper handed to 
you exhibits many serious charges, and it is my wish 
that it should be submitted to Congress. This I am the 
more inclined to, as the suppression or concealment may 
possibly involve you in embarrassments hereafter, since 
it is uncertain how many or who may be privy to the 

" My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. 
They know the delicacy of my situation, and that mo 
tives of policy deprive me of the defence I might other 
wise make against their insidious attacks. They know I 
cannot combat their insinuations, however injurious, with 
out disclosing secrets, which it is of the utmost moment 
to conceal. But why should I expect to be exempt from 
censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station ? Merit 
and talents, with which I can have no pretensions of ri- 
valship, have ever been subject to it. My heart tells me, 
that it has been my unremitted aim to do the best that 
circumstances would permit ; yet I may have been very 
often mistaken in my judgment of the means, and may 
in many instances deserve the imputation of error." 



[ -Ex. 45. 


Objects of 
those con 
cerned in the 

Con way re 
pents of his 
error, and 
returns to 

To what extent the members of Congress were con 
cerned in this alfair, it would be difficult now to decide. 
Names have been mentioned, but without such a clear 
statement of facts as to fix a direct charge upon any 
individual. The proceedings of Congress show, that the 
faction had supporters in that body ; but who they were, 
or what precise objects they had in view, cannot now be 
ascertained from the*testimony hitherto made public. The 
first aim of the cabal was, no doubt, to disgust Wash 
ington and cause him to resign. It is probable, that 
Gates's immediate coadjutors in the army looked to him 
as the successor, and that Gates flattered himself with 
this illusive dream. The dissatisfied members of Con 
gress, it is more likely, had their eyes upon Charles Lee, 
who was soon to be exchanged. 

Conway was the victim of his ambition and intrigues. 
Being wounded by an American officer in a duel, he 
wrote to General Washington while he thought himself 
near his end, expressing sorrow for his past conduct. 
" My career will soon be over," said he ; " therefore justice 
and truth prompt me to declare my last sentiments. You 
are in my eyes the great and good man. May you long 
enjoy the love, veneration, and esteem of these States, 
whose liberties you have asserted by your virtues." This 
confession, dictated at a solemn moment by a corroding 
conscience, although it may be deemed an apology for 
personal injuries, cannot atone for the guilt of having 
endeavored, in a time of public danger and distress, to 
kindle the flame of discord in a country, whose liberties 
he had offered to vindicate, and whose cause he was pre 
tending to serve. He unexpectedly recovered of his 
wound, and returned to France, leaving a name which 
few will envy, and an example which no one will be am 
bitious to imitate, who reflects how soon a crime may be 
followed by a just retribution. 



Sufferings of the Army at Valley Forge. New Arrangements concerted 
with a Committee of Congress. Half-pay granted to the Officers for a 
Term of Years. Proceedings in Regard to Lord North's conciliatory Bills. 
Arrival of the French Treaties of Alliance and Commerce. Compar 
ative Strength of the British and American Armies. Discussions re 
specting an Attack on Philadelphia. Plans of the Enemy. Evacuation 
of Philadelphia. The Army crosses the Delaware. Battle of Mon- 
mouth. Arrest and Trial of General Lee. Arrival of the French Fleet 
under Count d'Estaing. Plans for combined Operations between the 
Fleet and the American Army. Failure of an Attempt against the En 
emy at Rhode Island. Cantonments of the Army for the Winter. Ex 
change of Prisoners. Congress. Project of an Expedition to Canada 

THE winter at Valley Forge is memorable in the his- CHAPTER 
tory of the war. Owing to changes in the quartermas- - 

t *y *y Q 

ter's and commissary's departments, according to a scheme 
planned by Congress contrary to the judgment of Wash- Distresses 
ington, the army had been wretchedly supplied, and at no 
time were the sufferings of the troops so great, as they 
were for a few weeks after they went into winter quarters. 
Hardly were the huts begun, when information was re 
ceived, that a party of the enemy had left Philadelphia, 
with the apparent design of foraging and drawing subsist 
ence from the country. Several regiments were ordered 
to be in readiness to march, when it was discovered that 
they had no provisions, and that a dangerous mutiny was 
on the point of breaking out. The only remedy was to 
send parties abroad to collect, wherever they could find it, 
as much provision as would satisfy the pressing wants of 
the soldiers. 

The same wants recurred at different times through the Bufferings 

_ , , *-,. . . for the want 

winter. On one occasion General Washington wrote ; of supplies. 
" For some days there has been little less than a famine 
in camp. A part of the army have been a week without 
any kind of flesh, and the rest three or four days. Na- 


CHAPTER ked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire 
__._^L_ the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that 
1778. they have not been ere this excited by their sufferings 
to a general mutiny and dispersion. Strong symptoms, 
however, of discontent have appeared in particular in 
stances; and nothing but the most active efforts every 
where can long avert so shocking a catastrophe." Such 
was the scarcity of blankets, that many of the men were 
obliged to sit up all night by the fires, without covering 
to protect them while taking the common refreshment of 
sleep; and in numerous instances they were so scantily 
clad, that they could not leave their huts. Although the 
officers were better provided, yet none was exempt from 
exposures, privations, and hardships.* 

ISecom" Notwithstanding this deplorable condition of the army, 
fnac"tivh ft f there were not wanting those, who complained of its in- 
. activity, and insisted on a winter campaign. When the 
encampment was begun at Valley Forge, the whole num 
ber of men in the field was eleven thousand and ninety- 
eight, of whom two thousand eight hundred and ninety- 
eight were unfit for duty, " being barefoot and otherwise 
naked." In making this statement to Congress, and al 
luding to a memorial of the legislature of Pennsylvania, 
Washington said ; " We find gentlemen, without knowing 
whether the army was really going into winter quarters or 
not, reprobating the measure as much as if they thought 
the soldiers were made of stocks or stones, and equally 
insensible of frost and snow; and moreover, as if they 
conceived it easily practicable for an inferior army, under 
the disadvantages I have described ours to be, which are 
by no means exaggerated, to confine a superior one, in 
all respects well appointed and provided for a winter's 
campaign, within the city of Philadelphia, and to cover 

* Mrs. Washington joined her husband at Valley Forge in Febru 
ary. Writing a month afterwards to Mrs. Mercy Warren, the histo 
rian of the revolution, she said ; " The General's apartment is very 
small ; he has had a log cabin built to dine in, which has made our 
quarters much more tolerable than they were at first." 


from depredation and waste the States of Pennsylvania CHAPTER 
and New Jersey. But what makes this matter still more _ 
extraordinary in my eye is, that these very gentlemen, 1778. 
who were well apprized of the nakedness of the troops 
from ocular demonstration, who thought their own soldiers 
worse clad than others, and who advised me near a month 
ago to postpone the execution of a plan I was about to 
adopt, in consequence of a resolve of Congress, for seiz 
ing clothes, under strong assurances that an ample supply 
would be collected in ten days agreeably to a decree of 
the State (not one article of which, by the by, is yet 
come to hand), should think a winter's campaign, and 
the covering of these States from the invasion of an ene 
my, so easy and practicable a business. I can assure 
those gentlemen, that it is a much easier and less dis 
tressing thing to draw remonstrances in a comfortable 
room by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak hill, 
and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blan 
kets. However, although they seem to have little feel 
ing for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel super 
abundantly for them, and, from my soul, I pity those 
miseries, which it is neither in my power to relieve nor 

After the immediate wants of the army in camp were 

provided for, he next employed his thoughts in devising army. 
a new and improved system for the future. The expe 
rience of three campaigns had proved the necessity of 
radical and extensive changes in the plans hitherto pur 
sued, both in regard to the organization and discipline of 
the army, and to the methods of obtaining supplies. He 
deemed the subject to be of the utmost importance, and 
one upon the due adjustment of which would depend not 
only the efficiency, but even the existence, of a Conti 
nental military force. That he might act upon the sound 
est principles, and with all the aids that could be collect 
ed from the knowledge and reflections of others, he re 
quested the general officers to state their sentiments in 
writing. The result was a series of elaborate essays, con- 
33 A* 


CHAPTER taining such facts, discussions, and opinions, as the judg- 

XL ment and military skill of the writers enabled them to 

1778> present. 

congress Moved by the earnest solicitations of Washington, Con- 

miueet C oThe gress at the same time took the subject into considera 
tion. Their debates finally terminated in the appointment 
January 10. ^ & comm j ttee o f g ve members of their body, who were 
instructed to repair to the camp at Valley Forge, and in 
vested with ample powers to confer with the Commander, 
and digest in concert with him such a system as would 
correct existing abuses, lead to salutary reforms, and put 
the army on the footing he desired. When the commit 
tee arrived in camp, he laid before them a memoir, drawn 
up with great care, representing in detail the defects of 
previous arrangements, and containing an outline of a new 
and improved system.* The committee continued in camp 
three months, and then returned to Congress and present 
ed a report, which was in the main adopted. 
Haif-payto On one point, however, which Washington considered 

the officers ,, c i 

for life pro- not more equitable m itself, than essential to the continu 
ance of an army, there was great difference of opinion 
among the members of Congress. Hitherto there had been 
no provision made for the officers after the war should 
end, and no other inducement offered to them than their 

* The author of the Life of Hamilton has claimed for him a larger 
share in this important memoir than can justly be conceded. He says, 
u it is manifestly the work of Colonel Hamilton." This inference is 
drawn from the circumstance, that a draft exists in his handwriting. 
But it was in fact the work of many hands. There are few points in 
the paper itself, which are not contained or intimated in some of the 
communications of the general officers. As one of General Washing 
ton's aids, it was natural that Colonel Hamilton should be employed 
to arrange and condense the materials into the proper form of a report, 
especially as no one connected with the General's family was better 
qualified to execute the task, both from his knowledge of the subject 
and his ability. This is the only sense in which it can be considered 
as his work. Indeed, whoever is accustomed to consult the manuscripts 
of public documents will often be led into error, if he ascribes the 
authorship of every paper to the person in whose handwriting it may 
be found. This remark has particular force, when applied to the im- 


common wages while in actual service. Numerous com- CHAPTER 

plaints and resignations convinced Washington, that this ^ . 

motive, even when strengthened by ambition and patriot- 1778. 
ism, was not enough. He proposed half-pay for life, after 
the close of the war, or some other permanent provision. 

" If my opinion be asked." said he in a letter to Con- Arguments 

3 / i - forahalf- 

gress, " with respect to the necessity of making this pro- JJ[ n [JJJ b< ' 
vision for the officers, I am ready to declare, that I do 

April 10. 

most religiously believe the salvation of the cause depends 
upon it, and, without it, your officers will moulder to 
nothing, or be composed of low and illiterate men, void 
of capacity for this or any other business. To prove this, 
I can with truth aver, that scarce a day passes without 
the offer of two or three commissions ; and my advices 
from the eastward and southward are, that numbers who 
had gone home on furlough mean not to return, but are 
establishing themselves in more lucrative employments. 
Let Congress determine what will be the consequence of 
this spirit. 

" Personally, as an officer, I have no interest in their 
decision, because I have declared, and I now repeat it, 
that I never will receive the smallest benefit from the 
half-pay establishment ; but, as a man who fights under 
the weight of proscription, and as a citizen, who wishes 

portant papers to which Washington affixed his name. They were 
always the result of patient thought and investigation on his own part, 
aided by such light as he could collect from others, in whose intelli 
gence and judgment he could confide. Whatever pen he may have 
employed to embody these results, it may be laid down as a rule, to 
which there is no exception, that the writer aimed to express as clear 
ly and compactly as he could what he knew to be the sentiments of 
Washington. This fact alone can account for the extraordinary uni 
formity in style, modes of expression, and turns of thought, which pre 
vails throughout the immense body of Washington's letters, from his 
earliest youth to the end of his life. It will seldom be accurate to 
say, in regard to any of his papers, that the person, in whose hand 
writing they may be found, was their author ; nor indeed is it believed / 
that there is in history an instance of a public man, who was in the 
genuine sense of the term more emphatically the author of the papers, 
which received the sanction of his name. 



[.Ex. 46. 


1778 - 

agement to 

the officers 



between the 

British and 



to see the liberty of his country established upon a per- 
marient foundation, and whose property depends upon the 
success of our arms, I am deeply interested. But, all this 
apart, and justice out of the question, upon the single 
ground of economy and public saving, I will maintain 
the utility of it ; for I have not the least doubt, that, 
until officers consider their commissions in an honorable 
and interested point of view, and are afraid to endanger 
them by negligence and inattention, no order, regularity, or 
care, either of the men or public property, will prevail." 

Finding that the proposition was opposed in Congress, 
upon principles which seemed to him erroneous and im 
politic, he wrote to one of the members in terms still 
more earnest. 

" The officers will not be persuaded," he observed, "to 

. _ ., . 

sacrifice all views of present interest, and encounter the 
numerous vicissitudes of war, in the defence of their 
country, unless she will be generous enough on her part 
to make a decent provision for their future support. I do 
not pronounce absolutely, that we shall have no army if 
the establishment fails, but the army which we may have 
will be without discipline, without energy, incapable of 
acting with vigor, and destitute of those cements neces 
sary to promise success on the one hand, or to withstand 
the shocks of adversity on the other. It is indeed hard 
to say how extensive the evil may be, if the measure 
should be rejected, or much longer delayed. I find it a 
very arduous task to keep the officers in tolerable humor, 
and to protract such a combination for quitting the ser 
vice, as might possibly undo us for ever. 

" The difference between our service and that of the 

. . . _. 

enemy is very striking. With us, from the peculiar, un- 

, . . c 

happy situation of things, the officer, a few instances ex- 

cepted, must break in upon his private fortune for pres 
ent support, without a prospect of future relief. With 
them, even companies are esteemed so honorable and so 
valuable, that they have sold of late from fifteen to twenty- 
two hundred pounds sterling ; and I am credibly inform- 


ed, that four thousand guineas have been given for a CHAPTER 

troop of dragoons. You will readily determine how this 

difference will operate ; what effects it must produce. Men 1778. 

may speculate as they will ; they may talk of patriotism ; 

they may draw a few examples, from ancient story, of 

great achievements performed by its influence ; but who 

ever builds upon them, as a sufficient basis for conduct 

ing a long and bloody war, will find himself deceived in 

the end. We must take the passions of men as nature 

has given them, and those principles as a guide, which 

are generally the rule of action. I do not mean to ex 

clude altogether the idea of patriotism. I know it exists, 

and I know it has done much in the present contest. 

But I will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war 

can never be supported on this principle alone. It must 

be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward. For 

a time it may, of itself, push men to action, to bear 

much, to encounter difficulties ; but it will not endure 

unassisted by interest." 

These representations, so judicious and forcible, could 

not fail to have some influence even on the minds of grant hair- 

pay for life 

those, who were the most decided in their hostility to 
the measure. But they did not produce entire conviction, 
and the subject met with difficulties and delays. One 
party thought, or professed to think, that Congress had 
no power to act in such a matter, and proposed to refer 
it to the State legislatures ; another was haunted with 
the fear of a standkig army, a privileged class, and a 
pension list ; and another could see no difference between 
the sacrifices of the officers, in defending their country, 
and of private citizens, whose property was plundered, 
ravaged, and destroyed by the enemy. After much dis 
cussion, the plan of half-pay for life was carried, but by 
so small a majority that the vote was reconsidered, and 
a compromise was effected. By the ultimate decision, the 
officers were to receive half-pay for the term of seven years, 
and a gratuity of eighty dollars was to be given to each 
non-commissioned officer and soldier, who should continue 
in the service to the ***"* of the war. 



. 46 


" 1778. 

Jealousy of 
the army in 

Hardships of 
he troops. 

While this subject was under discussion, Washington 
saw with deep concern the jealousy of the army, which 
was manifested in Congress, and its unhappy influence 
on their deliberations. In other countries this prejudice 
exists against standing armies only in times of peace, and 
this because the troops are a distinct body from the citi 
zens, having few interests in common with them, and 
little other means of support than what flows from their 
military employment. But "it is our policy," said he, " to 
be prejudiced against them in time of war, though they 
are citizens, having all the ties and interests of citizens, 
and in most cases property totally unconnected with the 
military line." So heavily did this subject weigh upon 
his mind, that he unburdened himself freely in a letter 
to a member of Congress, and used all his endeavors to 
promote harmony, union, and a national feeling among 
those on whom the safety of the republic depended, 
whether acting in a civil or military capacity. 

" If we would pursue a right system of policy," he 
observed, " in my opinion, there should be none of these 
distinctions. We should all, Congress and army, be con 
sidered as one people, embarked in one cause, in one 
interest; acting on the same principle, and to the same 
end. The distinction, the jealousies set up, or perhaps 
only incautiously let out, can answer not a single good 
purpose. They are impolitic in the extreme. Among in 
dividuals the most certain way to make a man your ene 
my is to tell him you esteem him such. So with public 
bodies ; and the very jealousy, which the narrow politics 
of some may affect to entertain of the army, in order to 
a due subordination to the supreme civil authority, is a 
likely means to produce a contrary effect ; to incline it 
to the pursuit of those measures, which they may wish it 
to avoid. It is unjust, because no order of men in the 
Thirteen States has paid a more sacred regard to the 
proceedings of Congress than the army ; for without arro 
gance or the smallest deviation, from truth it may be said, 
that no history now extant can furnish an instance of an 

^r.46.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 263 

army's suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has CHAPTER 
done, and bearing them with the same patience and for- . XL _ 
titude. To see men, without clothes to cover their na- 1778. 
kedness, without blankets to lie on, without shoes (for 
the want of which their marches might be traced by the 
blood from their feet), and almost as often without pro 
visions as with them, marching through the frost and 
snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters 
within a day's march of the enemy, without a house or 
hut to cover them till they could be built, and submitting 
without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience, 
which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled." 

Bound by strong ties of attachment to the army, on Difficult** 

the good or ill fortunes of which his own reputation so ti 

111:111 J of the 

much depended, he spared no efforts to redress its griev- army. 
ances, maintain its rights, and mitigate its sufferings ; but 
he was prompt and inflexible in checking the least dis 
position to encroach on the civil power, or to claim 
privileges, however reasonable in themselves, which the 
peculiar circumstances of the country rendered it hazardous 
or inexpedient to grant. Considering the materials of the 
army, composed of freemen brought together and held 
together almost without the aid of law or of authority 
in any supreme head, unaccustomed to a soldier's life, im 
patient under discipline, and constantly exposed to extraor 
dinary privations and distresses, it may truly be said, that 
no commander ever had a more difficult task to perform 
in discharging the duties of his station ; and this in ad 
dition to the labor and responsibility of suggesting to 
Congress the important measures, which they were to 
adopt in regard to military affairs, the vexation of seeing 
his plans thwarted by prejudice and party dissensions, and 
the anxiety he never ceased to feel on account of the 
divided counsels, apathy, antipathies, and local predilec 
tions, which were manifested both in Congress and in the 
State legislatures. 

About the middle of April arrived in New York a draft LordNorth'a 
of what were called Lord North's Conciliatory Bills, con- bSE 1 Ia 



. 46. 

Terms of 
not accept 

CHAPTER taining a new project by him submitted to Parliament 
XL for settling the differences between Great Britain and the 
1778. United States. This movement was prompted by the 
apprehension, that France would soon acknowledge the 
independence of the latter, and join in the war against 
England. Governor Tryon, to whom the draft of the bills 
was sent, had it immediately reprinted in New York, 
and took measures to disperse copies of it as extensively 
as possible in the country, which, he said, was done in 
obedience to " his Majesty's command." Copies were en 
closed by him to General Washington, with a polite re 
quest that he would aid in circulating them, " that the 
people at large might be acquainted with the favorable 
disposition of Great Britain towards the American colo 
nies." Washington sent them to Congress. 

As to the tenor of the bills, it is enough to say, that 
the terms held out were such as would undoubtedly 
have been accepted in the first stages of the controversy. 
Important changes had since occurred. The Americans 
had declared themselves an independent nation. They 
had shed their blood, expended their means, and endured 
the miseries of a three years' war, in defence of the rights 
they claimed, and the character they had assumed. It 
was no part of the British ministry's plan to treat with 
the American States as an independent power. They 
were to go back to their old condition as colonies, be 
favored with certain privileges, and, relieved from the 
burden of self-government, to trust their liberties again 
to the parental guardianship of the mother country. Till 
the remembrance of the past should be obliterated, these 
proffers were not likely to gain the confidence or change 
the sentiments of those, who had taken the lead in oppo 
sition after a thorough knowledge of the causes, and of 
the grounds on which they stood, and who had already 
risked much and labored hard to secure the political ex 
istence and prosperity of their country, by establishing 
them on the firm basis of union and freedom. 

Yet it was feared there were some, who, weary of the 


war, or disheartened at the prospect of its continuance, CHAPTER 
might be soothed with the voice of conciliation, and thus XL 

become cold supporters of the popular cause, if not de- 1778. 

cided advocates for peace on the terms proposed. To Washington 

/. . , f , . disapproves 

prevent this consequence, as far as the weight 01 his the concilia 
judgment would go, Washington expressed his own opin- and they 'are 
ions in very decided language to a member of Congress congress. 
only two days after he learned the contents of the .con 
ciliatory bills. " Nothing short of independence, it appears 
to me, can possibly do. A peace on other terms would, 
if I may be allowed the expression, be a peace of war. 
The injuries we have received from the British nation 
were so unprovoked, and have been so great and so 
many, that they can never be forgotten. Besides the 
feuds, the jealousies, the animosities, that would ever at 
tend a union with them ; besides the importance, the ad 
vantages, which we should derive from an unrestricted 
commerce ; our fidelity as a people, our gratitude, our 
character as men, are opposed to a coalition with them 
as subjects, but in case of the last extremity. Were we 
easily to accede to terms of dependence, no nation, upon 
future occasions, let the oppressions of Britain be ever so 
flagrant and unjust, would interpose for our relief; or, at 
most, they would do it with a cautious reluctance, and 
upon conditions most probably that would be hard, if not 
dishonorable to us." Fortunately, the subject appeared 
in the same light to Congress. As soon as the drafts of 
Lord North's bills were received, they were referred to a 
committee ; upon whose report a short discussion ensued ; 
and it was unanimously resolved, that the terms offered April 22. 
were totally inadequate, and that no advances on the part 
of the British government for a peace would be met, un 
less, as a preliminary step, they either withdrew their 
armies and fleets, or acknowledged unequivocally the inde 
pendence of the United States. At the same time the 
bills were published in connexion with the proceedings of 
Congress, and circulated throughout the country. 

The three commissioners, Lord Carlisle, Governor John- 
34 B2 

266 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [ Mr. 46. 

CHAPTER stone, and William Eden, sent over from England to 
, XL negotiate the business of conciliation, did not arrive in 
1778. Philadelphia till six weeks after the drafts of the bills 
British com- were published by Governor Tryon. Two of the commis- 
sioners, Johnstone and Eden, were the bearers of private 
letters of introduction to General Washington from his 
friends in England, and also of many other letters to gen 
tlemen of high political standing. To all appearance the 
olive branch was fairly held out. The secretary to the 
commission was Dr. Ferguson, the celebrated professor of 
moral philosophy in Edinburgh. On the first landing of 
the commissioners, they despatched their letters to Wash 
ington's camp, and requested a passport for Dr. Ferguson 
to go to Yorktown, where Congress was then sitting, and 
present in person the papers they had brought. This 
matter being wholly of a civil nature, he did not think 
himself authorized to give such a passport, without the 
direction of Congress, and he forwarded to them the ap 
plication. Impatient at the delay, or fearing a positive 
refusal from Congress to receive the papers, the commis 
sioners immediately sent them through the usual medium 
of a flag to the President. The reception they met with 
may be imagined from the manner in which Lord North's 
bills had been disposed of. The door to any kind of 
compromise on the principles laid down in those bills had 
been effectually closed, and Congress adhered to their first 
resolution. * The commissioners remained several months 

* Mr. Adolphus, in his History of England, (Vol. III. 4th ed. p. 89) 
says, "Application was made to General Washington for a passport for 
Dr. Ferguson, to convey overtures to Congress, but this favor was harsh 
ly refused, and the letters of the commissioners forwarded by the 
common military posts." And then he speaks of the " wanton inso 
lence of this proceeding." Such coarseness of language and illiberality 
of sentiment would seem unworthy of notice, if they were not from a 
respectable source. In truth the passport was not refused, but Gen 
eral Washington thought it not consistent with his duty to grant it, 
without the previous approbation of Congress. Before an answer could 
possibly be received, the commissioners sent out their despatches by a 
flag, unaccompanied by their secretary. It is needless to say, that 

^Er. 46.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 267 

in the country, made various attempts to gain their object, CHAPTER 
as well by art and address as by official intercourse, and 

at last went back to England baffled and disappointed, 1778. 
if indeed they ever had any real hope of success, which 
may be doubted. 

Meantime an important event occurred, which diffused Treaty wit 

France re- 

universal joy in America. The King of France recogms- gjjj 6 ^ 
ed the independence of the United States in a formal 
treaty of amity and commerce, and in a treaty of defen 
sive alliance, both signed in Paris on the 6th of February, 
by M. Gerard on the part of France, and by the Ameri 
can commissioners, Franklin, Deane, and Lee. It was of 
course expected, that this procedure would bring on a 
war between England and France, and the parties mu 
tually agreed not to lay down their arms till the inde 
pendence of the United States should be assured by a 
treaty at the termination of the war. The messenger, 
who brought the news of this auspicious event, and who 
was likewise the bearer of the treaties, arrived in York- 
town on the 2d of May, ten days after Congress had 
passed their resolves respecting Lord North's bills. This 
last fact is worthy of remark, as it shows that the trans 
actions in France, being then unknown, had no influence 
in producing those resolves. The treaties were immediate 
ly ratified by Congress. 

The army participated in the rejoicings everywhere man- Rejoicings 
ifested on this occasion. A day was set apart for a pub- tL C raufic 

i. , , . , , . tionofthe 

lie celebration in camp. It began in the morning with treaty, 
religious services, and a discourse to each of the brigades Mays, 
by one of its chaplains. Then followed military parades, 
marchings, and firings of cannon and musketry, according 
to a plan announced in the general orders. The appear 
ance was brilliant and the effect imposing. The whole 

this writer is astonished at the blindness and obstinacy of the Ameri 
cans, in not acceding to the terms of the commissioners, which, in 
his opinion, "proffered more real freedom, than, under all circumstan 
ces, could be expected to flow from an acquiescence in their unsup 
ported independence." 



|>ET. 46. 

CHAPTER ceremony was conducted with perfect regularity, and was 
XL closed with an entertainment, patriotic toasts, music, and 

1778. other demonstrations of joy. 

British hold The British kept possession of Philadelphia through the 
winter and the spring following; and, although Washing 
ton's camp was within twenty miles of the city, yet no 
enterprise was undertaken to molest him in his quarters. 
Foraging parties went out and committed depredations up 
on the inhabitants ; but they were watched by the Ameri 
cans, who sometimes met them in fierce and bloody ren 
counters. When it was told to Dr. Franklin in Paris, 
that General Howe had taken Philadelphia, he sagacious 
ly replied j " Say rather, that Philadelphia has taken Gen 
eral Howe." This prediction, if such it may be called, 
was verified in the end. The conquest gained at the 
expense of a campaign, and with a considerable loss of 
men, actually availed nothing. Philadelphia, fortified on 
the land side and guarded by a formidable fleet in the 
river, afforded to the British army a resting-place for eight 
months. This was the whole fruit of the bloodshed and 
victory. New York would have afforded the same, with 
out the trouble of a campaign, and at much less cost. 

The number of troops for the Continental army, ac 
cording to the new establishment agreed upon by the 
committee of Congress at Valley Forge, was to be about 
forty thousand besides artillery and horse. When a coun 
cil of war was called, on the 8th of May, to consider 
what measures should be adopted for future operations, it 
was found, that the army, including the detachments on 
the North River and at other places, did not then exceed 
fifteen thousand men, nor was it supposed that it could 
soon be raised higher than twenty thousand effective 
men. The number at Valley Forge was eleven thousand 
eight hundred. The British army in New York and 
Philadelphia, as since ascertained from the adjutant's re 
turns, amounted to nearly thirty thousand, of which num 
ber nineteen thousand five hundred were in Philadelphia, 
and ten thousand four hundred in New York. There 

Strength of 
the two ar 


were besides three thousand seven hundred at Rhode CHAPTER 
Island making the whole British army in the middle XI> 
and eastern States upwards of thirty-three thousand. 

These numbers are much larger than was imagined by J^ 
the council of war. They estimated the enemy's force g*^ 5; r _ 
in Philadelphia at ten thousand, in New York at four ations - 
thousand, and in Rhode Island at two thousand, besides Mays- 
cavalry and artillery. Upon this basis the question was 
discussed, whether it was expedient to take the field and 
act on the defensive, or wait till the plans of the enemy 
should become more obvious, and then be guided by cir 
cumstances. There was great unanimity in the decision. 
To take the city by storm was impracticable without a 
vastly superior force ; and equally so to carry it by siege 
or blockade, strongly fortified as it was by nature and 
artificial works, and by vessels of war. Militia might be 
called out, but it was uncertain in what numbers ; and, 
however numerous, they could not be depended on for 
such an enterprise. In every view of the subject, there 
fore, weighty objections presented themselves against any 
scheme of offensive operations. 

It was not long before affairs began to put on a new Enemy pre- 

aspect. Prom the intelligence communicated by spies, ate p 

J ' delphia. 

and from various indications, it was suspected, that the 
enemy were preparing to evacuate Philadelphia. Sir Wil 
liam Howe, weary of a service in which he found him 
self gradually losing the confidence of his employers and 
supplying his enemies with weapons to assail his reputa 
tion, and thinking his honors dearly bought at such a 
price, had asked to be recalled, and his request was grant 
ed by the King. He was succeeded, in the command 
of his Majesty's forces in America, by Sir Henry Clinton, 
who had been made knight of the order of the Bath 
during the past year. The treaties between France and 
the United States were regarded by the com* of Great 
Britain as a declaration of war on the part of France, and 
caused a change in the plans of the ministry for conduct 
ing the contest in America. It was resolved to make 


CHAPTER a sudden descent upon some of the French possessions 
XIt in the West Indies. To aid in executing this project, 
1778. Si r Henry Clinton was ordered to send five thousand 
men from his army ; and also three thousand more to 
Florida; and to withdraw the remainder to New York. 
Another reason for this last movement was the probabili 
ty, that a French fleet would soon appear at the mouth 
of the Delaware, and thus blockade the shipping in that 
river, and put in jeopardy the army, diminished as it 
would be by the departure of the above detachments. 
British Gen- Sir Henry Clinton first intended to proceed by water 
signs. with his whole army to New York ; but this was found 

impracticable for want of transports. He therefore ship 
ped his cavalry, part of the German troops, the American 
loyalists, his provision train and heavy baggage, on board 
such vessels as were in the river, and prepared to march 
through New Jersey with the main body of his army. 
Lafayette's While these preparations were making with as much 
renHiii. secrecy as possible by the British commander, Washing- 
May 20. ton sent out from Valley Forge a detachment of two 
thousand men under the Marquis de Lafayette, the ob 
ject of which was to cover the country between the 
Delaware and Schuylkill, to interrupt the communication 
with Philadelphia, to obstruct the incursions of the ene 
my's parties, and gain intelligence of their motions and 
designs. Lafayette marched to Barren Hill, and, while 
stationed there, a large part of the British army came 
out by a forced march in the night, with the intention 
of attacking him by surprise, and cutting off his detach 
ment. Owing to the negligence, disobedience, or treach 
ery of a picket guard, Lafayette was nearly surrounded 
by the enemy before he was informed of their approach; 
but by a very skilful manoeuvre, quickly conceived and 
performed in a masterly manner, he gained a ford and 
drew off ^is whole detachment across the Schuylkill, 
with the loss of only nine men killed and taken. The 
enemy retreated to Philadelphia. 

To obstruct the progress of the British troops, in case 


they should take the route over land to New York, Gen- CHAPTER 
eral Maxwell was ordered to cross the Delaware with a XL 

brigade, and to act in concert with General Dickinson, 1778. 

who commanded the New Jersey militia. It being more variou a 

~. . . opinions of 

and more evident, that Sir Henry Clinton was preparing the officers 

as to the 

to move by land, the opinion of the general officers was 

required, as to the operations in consequence of that event. 
The principal point to be considered was, whether the army 
should pursue the British, fall upon their rear, and bring 
on an engagement. Opinions were various ; but nearly all 
the officers were opposed to an attack, on account of the 
superiority of the enemy in force and discipline. General 
Lee, who had been exchanged, and had recently joined 
the army, argued vehemently against such a step. Some 
of the officers agreed with him ; others, who were unwil 
ling to advise a general action, thought that the enemy 
should at any rate be harassed in their march, and that 
an engagement, though not to be sought, should not be 
avoided if circumstances rendered it expedient. 

The news of the evacuation of Philadelphia, which took Philadelphia 
place in the morning of the 18th of June, was received 
while the subject was still under discussion. General 
Arnold, who had not yet entirely recovered from the 
wound he received at Saratoga, was ordered to march 
with a small detachment into the city, and to retain the 
command there. General Lee and General Wayne, each 
at the head of a division, took the road to Coryell's 
Ferry, with orders to halt on the first strong ground after 
passing the river. Washington followed, and in six days 
the whole army had crossed the Delaware, and arrived 
at Hopewell, five miles from Princeton. Detachments in 
the mean time had been sent to impede the enemy's 
march. Morgan's corps of six hundred men was ordered 
to gain their right flank, Maxwell's brigade to hang on 
their left, and General Scott, with fifteen hundred chosen 
troops, to gall their left flank and rear. To these were 
joined the New Jersey militia under General Dickinson, 
and a party of volunteers from Pennsylvania commanded 
by General Cadwalader. 



. 4b. 



inarch across 
New Jersey. 

Council of 
war divided 
on the sub 
let of at 
tacking the 

June 24. 

After the British had crossed the river and landed at 
Gloucester Point, they marched by the way of Haddon- 
field and Mount Holly, and moved on slowly till they 
came to Crosswicks and Allen Town. Being encumbered 
with a long train of wagons and bat-horses, and confined 
to a single road, their line extended nearly twelve miles. 
It was necessary, also, to stop and build bridges over 
every stream and the marshy ground, as the bridges had 
all been destroyed by the Americans. These interruptions 
retarded their progress. Nor was it till he reached Allen 
Town, that Sir Henry Clinton decided what direction he 
should take from that place. It was his first purpose to 
proceed to the Rariton, and embark his troops at Brunswic 
or South Amboy for New York. But, finding Wash 
ington almost in his front, and deeming it imprudent to 
hazard a battle while his army was so much encumbered, 
and on such ground as his antagonist might choose, he 
turned to the right, and took the road leading to Mon- 
mouth and Sandy Hook. 

At this time Washington's army had advanced to 
Kingston. In a council of war, convened at Hopewell, 
the question was again discussed, as to the mode of at 
tacking the enemy. Sir Henry Clinton's force was sup 
posed to consist of nine or ten thousand effective men.* 
The Continental troops under Washington amounted to a 
little over twelve thousand ; and there were about thirteen 
hundred miltia. General Lee still persisted in the same 
sentiments as at first; and, as he was now next in rank 
to the Commander-in-chief, and an officer of long expe 
rience, his opinions and arguments had great weight in 

* This was the estimate, but the number must have been consid 
erably larger. The number of British troops in Philadelphia was up 
wards of nineteen thousand, making a difference from the estimate of 
more than nine thousand. There were not transports enough in Phila 
delphia to accommodate this number, nor does Sir Henry Clinton in 
his despatches mention having sent such a body of troops by water. 
Nor had they gone to the West Indies. The troops for that station 
sailed afterwards from New York. 


the council. He seemed averse to any kind of interfer- CHAPTER 
ence with the enemy ; but he acceded to a proposal, in XL 
which he was joined by five others, that fifteen hundred 1778. 
men should be sent to hang on their rear. Six general 
officers, namely, Greene, Lafayette, Steuben, Wayne, Du- 
portail, and Paterson, were for sending twenty-five hundred 
men, or ar least two thousand, which should be followed 
by the main army at such a distance as to afford support, 
if it should be necessary. It was clearly the wish of 
these officers to draw the enemy into a general engage 
ment, if it could be done under favorable circumstances. 
Indeed Greene, Lafayette, and Wayne declared their sen 
timents to this effect in writing. 

Thus embarrassed with the divided opinions of his offi- Washington 
cers, Washington had a delicate part to act. There can gagement. 
be no doubt, however, that his own judgment strongly 
inclined him to seek an engagement, from the time he 
left Valley Forge. The reputation of the army, and the 
expectation of the country, in his view required it ; and 
he believed the chances of success at least sufficient to 
authorize the attempt. After the council at Hopewell, 
therefore, he asked no further advice, but proceeded on 
his individual responsibility. He immediately ordered a 
detachment of one thousand men under General Wayne 
to join the troops already near the enemy, and gave to 
General Lafayette the command of all the advanced par 
ties, amounting now to about three thousand eight hundred 
men, including militia. 

In his instructions to Lafayette he said ; " You are to instructions 
use the most effectual means for gaining the enemy's left 
flank, and giving every degree of annoyance. For these 
purposes you will attack them as occasion may require 
by detachment, and, if a proper opening should be given, 
by operating against them with your whole command.'' 
Foreseeing that these orders, executed with the spirit and 
ardor which characterized Lafayette, would soon lead to 
an action with a large part of the enemy's force, Wash- 



[>T. 46. 



General Lee 
takes com 
mand of the 

June 26. 

Battle of 

June 28. 

ington prepared to sustain the advanced division, keeping 
within a distance proper for that purpose. 

General Lee's seniority of rank entitled him to the 
command of all the advanced detachments ; but disapprov 
ing the plans of the Commander-in-chief and believing 
they would fail, he voluntarily yielded his claims to La 
fayette. After this arrangement had been made with Wash 
ington's consent, and Lafayette had marched towards the 
enemy, Lee changed his mind and applied to be reinstated. 
As Lafayette could not with any degree of justice or 
propriety be recalled, Washington resorted to an expedient, 
which he hoped would preserve harmony, although it 
might not be entirely satisfactory to either of the parties. 
He put Lee at the head of two additional brigades, with 
orders to join the advanced detachments, when he would 
of course have the command of the whole ; but directed 
him at the same time to give Lafayette notice of his 
approach, and to afford him all the assistance in his power 
for prosecuting any enterprise, which he might already 
have undertaken or planned. He wrote also to Lafayette, 
explaining the dilemma into which he was thrown by the 
vacillating conduct of General Lee, and expressing a con 
viction that he would cheerfully acquiesce in a measure, 
which the exigency of the occasion rendered necessary. 

While the main army moved forward to Cranberry, and 
the advanced parties were hovering around the enemy's 
flanks and rear, Sir Henry Clinton changed the disposition 
of his line, placing the baggage train in front, and his 
heist troops in the rear. With his army thus arranged, 
he encamped in a strong position near Monmouth Court- 
House, secured on nearly all sides by woods and marshy 
grounds. This was his situation on the morning of the- 
28th of June. Washington was at this time six or seven 
miles distant, and, receiving intelligence at five o'clock, 
that the enemy's front had begun to march, he instantly 
put the army in motion, and sent orders to General Lee 
by one of his aids to move on and commence the at 
tack, " unless there should be very powerful reasons to the 


contrary," acquainting him at the same time, that he CHAPTER 
should come up as soon as possible to his support. 

After marching about five miles, he was surprised and 1778. 

mortified to learn, that the whole of Lee's division, amount- General Lee 

, . . . retreats 

ing to five thousand men, was by his orders retreating, 
without having made any opposition except one fire from 
a party, which had been charged by the enemy's cavalry. 
The situation was the more critical and alarming, as Gen 
eral Lee had given no notice of his retreat, but was 
marching his troops into the face of the rear division, thus 
running the hazard of throwing all parts of the army into 
confusion at the moment when the enemy were pressing 
upon him with unimpeded force.* 

Washington rode immediately to the rear of the re 
treating division, where he found General Lee, and, ac 
costing him with a warmth in his language and manner, 
which showed his disappointment and displeasure, he or 
dered the troops to be formed and brought into action. 
Lee promptly obeyed, and with some difficulty the order 
of battle was restored in time to check the advance of 
the enemy before the other division came up. 

A disposition of the left wing and second line of the Particulars 

... of the ac- 

army was then made on an eminence, and partly in a tion. 
wood, covered by a morass in front. This wing was 
commanded by Lord Stirling, who placed some batteries 

* Lee had manoeuvred near the enemy for some time with the ap 
parent intention of attacking them. While thus engaged, a party of 
British troops moved towards his right flank, and so placed itself that 
Lafayette thought a fair opportunity offered for cutting it off. He 
rode quickly up to Lee, and asked him if an attack could not be 
advantageously made in that quarter. "Sir," replied Lee, " you do 
not know British soldiers ; we cannot stand against them ; we shall 
certainly be driven back at first, and we must be cautious." Lafayette 
answered, that it might be so, but British soldiers had been beaten, 
and it was to be presumed they might be beaten again, and at any 
rate he was for making the trial. Soon afterwards one of Washing 
ton's aids arrived for intelligence, and, as he was returning, Lafayette 
desired him to say to the General, that his presence at the scene of 
action was extremely important. Before this message reached him, 
the retreat had begun. 

276 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. f^Er. 46. 

CHAPTER of cannon in such a manner as to play upon the enemy 
XL with great effect, and, aided by parties of infantry, to 
1778. put a stop to their advance in that direction. General 
Greene commanded the right wing, and on the march he 
had been ordered to file off and take a road, which would 
bring him upon the enemy's flank. On hearing of the 
retreat he marched up and took a very advantageous po 
sition on the right. Being warmly opposed in front, the 
enemy attempted next to turn the American left flank, 
but were repulsed and driven back; and a similar move 
ment to the right was equally unsuccessful, as they were 
bravely met by the troops with artillery under General 
Greene. In the mean time General Wayne advanced 
with a body of infantry, and kept up so hot and well- 
directed a fire upon the enemy's front, that they retired 
behind a marshy ravine to the ground which they had 
occupied at the beginning of the engagement. 

British In this situation both their flanks were secured by 

woods and morasses, and they could be approached in 
front only through a narrow pass. Two bodies of troops 
were ordered to move round and gain their right and left, 
while the artillery should gall them in front. Before these 
movements could be effected, night came on and put an 
end to the action. Intending to renew the contest in 
the morning, Washington directed all the troops to lie 
upon their arms in the places where they happened to 
be stationed at dark. Wrapped in his cloak, he passed 
the night on the field of battle in the midst of his sol 
diers. But, when the morning dawned, no enemy was 
to be seen. Sir Henry Clinton had silently withdrawn 
his troops during the night, and followed his baggage 
train on the road leading to Middietown. As he would 
have gained commanding ground, where he might choose 
his own position, before he could be overtaken, and as 
the troops had suffered exceedingly from the intense heat 
of the weather and fatigue, it was not thought expedient 
to continue the pursuit. 

This battle, though it can hardly be said to have re- 

2Er. 46.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 277 

suited in a victory, was nevertheless honorable to the CHAPTER 
American arms, and, after the inauspicious retreat of the XL 
first division, was fought with skill and bravery. It was 1778 - 
probably in all respects as successful as Washington had 
hoped. Congress passed a unanimous vote of thanks to 
the Commander and the army. 

Four British officers and two hundred and forty-five LOSS in the 


privates were left dead on the field, and were buried by 
the Americans. It appeared that others were likewise 
buried by the enemy, making the whole number of killed 
nearly three hundred. The American loss was sixty-nine 
killed. Several soldiers on both sides are said to have 
died in consequence of the extreme heat of the day, and 
it is probable that the number of Americans reported as 
killed does not include all that died from this cause. 

But the loss of Sir Henry Clinton in battle made but British loss 

... in the march 

a small part of the diminution of his army while march- through 

^iew Jersey. 

ing through Jersey. One hundred were taken prisoners, 
and more than six hundred deserters arrived in Philadel 
phia within three weeks from the time he left it, being 
drawn thither chiefly by the attachments they had formed 
during eight months' residence in the city. Others also 
escaped into the country while on the march ; so that the 
army, when it reached New York, had suffered a reduc 
tion of at least twelve hundred men. 

After the action, Sir Henry Clinton proceeded to Sandy 
Hook, where Lord Howe's fleet, having come round from 
the Delaware, was in readiness to convey the troops to 
New York. Washington marched to Hudson's River, cross 
ed at King's Ferry, and encamped near White Plains. 

The pride of General Lee was wounded by the Ian- Trial of 
guage, which Washington used when he met him re 
treating. The day after the action, Lee wrote a letter 
to Washington, containing expressions, which no officer 
could with propriety address to his superior. This was 
answered in a tone, that rather tended to increase than 
soothe his irritation, and he replied in terms still more 
offensive. In a subsequent note, written the same day, 



CHAPTER he requested that his case might be referred to a court- 
XL martial. He was accordingly put in arrest, under three 
1778. charges; first, disobedience of orders in not attacking the 
enemy, agreeably to repeated instructions j secondly, mis 
behavior before the enemy, in making an unnecessary, 
disorderly, and shameful retreat ; thirdly, disrespect to the 
Commander-in-chief in two letters written after the action. 
A court-martial was summoned, which sat from time to 
time for three weeks while the army was on its march ; 
and finally declared their opinion, that General Lee was 
guilty of all the charges, and sentenced him to be sus 
pended from all command in the army of the United 
States for the term of twelve months. In the written 
opinion of the court, the second charge was modified by 
omitting the word " shameful " ; but in all other respects 
the charges were allowed to be sustained by the testi 
mony. Congress approved the sentence. General Lee left 
the army, and never joined it again. He died four years 
afterwards in Philadelphia. * 

Before the army crossed the Hudson, General Washing- 

* Soon after General Lee rejoined the army at Valley Forge, a 
curious incident occurred. By an order of Congress, General Wash 
ington was required to administer the oath of allegiance to the general 
officers. The major-generals stood around Washington, and took hold 
of a Bible together according to the usual custom ; but, just as he be 
gan to administer the oath, Lee deliberately withdrew his hand twice. 
This movement was so singular, and was performed in so odd a man 
ner, that the officers smiled, and Washington inquired the meaning of 
his hesitancy. Lee replied, "As to King George, I am ready enough 
to absolve myself from all allegiance to him, but I have some scruples 
about the Prince of Wales." The strangeness of this reply was such, 
that the officers burst into a broad laugh, and even Washington could 
not refrain from a smile. The ceremony was of course interrupted. It 
was renewed as soon as a composure was restored proper for the sol 
emnity of the occasion, and Lee took the oath with the other officers. 
Connected with the subsequent conduct of General Lee, this incident 
was thought by some, who were acquainted with it, to have a deeper 
meaning than at first appeared, and to indicate a less ardent and 
fixed patriotism towards the United States, than was consistent with 
the rank and professions of the second officer .in the command of 
the American forces. 


ton heard of the arrival of Count d'Estaing on the coast CHAPTER 
with a French fleet, consisting of twelve ships of the line XL 
and four frigates. The admiral touched at the Capes of 1778. 
the Delaware, where he was informed of the evacuation Arrival of 

Count d'Es- 

of Philadelphia, and, after despatching up the river one taing. 
of his frigates, on board of which was M. Gerard, the 
first minister from France to the United States, he sailed 
for Sandy Hook. No time was lost by General Wash- Juiyw 
ington in sending him a letter of congratulation, and pro 
posing to cooperate with him in carrying any plans into 
execution, which might be concerted for attacking the 
enemy. Colonel Laurens, one of his aids-de-camp, was 
the bearer of this letter, to whom the Count was re 
ferred for such information as he might wish to obtain. 
When it was known that the fleet had arrived at the 
Hook, Colonel Hamilton, another confidential aid, was sent 
on board accompanied by four skilful pilots, and instructed 
to explain the General's views fully to Count d'Estaing. 

If it should be found practicable for the French ves- French fleet 

sels to pass the -bar, and engage the British fleet then at the 1 bar at 8 * 

Hook - 

. . , . . r i -i 

anchor within the Hook, it was supposed a simultaneous 

attack on the land side might be made to advantage ; and 
indeed not without a prospect of very fortunate results, if 
the French should be able by a naval victory to enter 
the harbor and ascend to the city. These hopes were 
soon dissipated by the unanimous opinion of the pilots, 
that there was not sufficient depth of water to admit 
Count d'Estaing's heavy ships over the bar, and by their 
refusal to take the responsibility of attempting to conduct 
them through the channel. 

The only enterprise, that now remained, was an attack Expedition 
on the enemy at Rhode Island, where six thousand British 


, Rhode Isl- 

troops were stationed, chiefly in garrison at Newport, and and. 
protected by a few small vessels, batteries, and strong 
intrenchments. The French squadron departed for that 
place, without being molested by Lord Howe, whose force 
was not such as to encourage him to go out and give 
battle. Anticipating the French admiral's determination, 



[-Ex. 46 



laments the 
between the 
and French 

Sept. 1. 

Washington prepared to lend all the aid in his power to 
make it effectual. General Sullivan was already in Provi 
dence, at the head of a considerable body of Continental 
troops ; and he was ordered to apply to the States of 
Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, for militia 
enough to augment his force to at least five thousand 
men. A detachment of two brigades marched from the 
main army under Lafayette, who was followed by General 
Greene. The events of this expedition do not fall within 
the limits of the present narrative. Various causes con 
tributed to its failure, by defeating the combined action 
of the land and naval forces. Count d'Estaing's fleet, af 
ter leaving Newport, was so much crippled by a tremen 
dous storm, and a partial engagement at sea, that he put 
in to the harbor of Boston to refit, where he remained 
till November. 

The disagreements, which unhappily existed between 
the American and French officers at Rhode Island, gave 
the deepest concern to Washington. In a letter to La 
fayette, who had communicated the particulars, he la 
mented it as a misfortune, which might end in a serious 
injury to the public interest ; and he endeavored to as 
suage the rising animosity of the parties by counsels 
equally creditable to his feelings as a man and to his 

" I feel every thing," said he, " that hurts the sensi 
bility of a gentleman, and consequently upon the present 
occasion I feel for you and for our good and great allies 
the French. I feel myself hurt, also, at every illiberal 
and unthinking reflection, which may have been cast upon 
the Count d'Estaing, or the conduct of the fleet under 
his command ; and lastly, I feel for my country. Let me 
entreat you, therefore, my dear Marquis, to take no ex 
ception at unmeaning expressions, uttered perhaps without 
consideration, and in the first transport of disappointed 
hope. Everybody, Sir, who reasons, will acknowledge 
the advantages which we have derived from the French 
fleet, and the zeal of the commander of it ; but, in a 


free and republican government, you cannot restrain the CHAPTER 
voice of the multitude. Every man will speak as he XI> 
thinks, or, more properly, without thinking, and conse- 17 78. 
quently will judge of effects without attending to the 
causes. The censures, which have been levelled at the 
officers of the French fleet, would more than probably 
have fallen in a much higher degree upon a fleet of our 
own, if we had one in the same situation. It is the na 
ture of man to be displeased with every thing that dis 
appoints a favorite hope or flattering project ; and it is 
the folly of too many of them to condemn without in 
vestigating circumstances. 

"Let me beseech you therefore, my good Sir, to afford 
a healing hand to the wound, that unintentionally has 
been made. America esteems your virtues and your ser 
vices, and admires the principles upon which you act. 
Your countrymen in our army look up to you as their 
patron. The Count and his officers consider you as a 
man high in rank, and high in estimation here and also 
in France; and I, your friend, have no doubt but you 
will use your utmost endeavors to restore harmony, that 
the honor, glory, and mutual interest of the two nations 
may be promoted and cemented in the firmest manner." 

To Count d'Estaing he wrote in language not less deli 
cate and conciliatory, nor less fitted to remove unfavora 
ble impressions. 

In compliance with the order from the ministry given Designs of 
early in the season, Sir Henry Clinton detached five thou- general, 
sand men to the West Indies and three thousand to Flori 
da ; but there was much delay in fitting out these ex 
peditions, and the troops did not actually sail till near the 
end of October. Lord Howe's fleet in the mean time 
had been reinforced by a squadron from Europe. As 
neither the orders nor the plans of the British general 
were known, it was conjectured that he might have in 
view a stroke upon Count d'Estaing's ^fleet in Boston 
harbor, and perhaps an attack upon that town. It is 
probable, also, that General Clinton gave a currency to 
36 c2* 


CHAPTER rumors of this sort, for the purpose of diverting the at- 
XL tention of the Americans from his real objects. A report 
1778. gained credit, believed to have come from good authority, 
that New York was to be evacuated. Washington sus 
pected the true origin of this rumor, and could not per 
suade himself that an eastern expedition was intended ; 
yet the public impression and the conviction of some of 
his officers were so strong, as to its reality, that he took 
measures to guard against it. 

Washington He established his head-quarters at Fredericksburg, 
guaiTthe thirty miles from West Point, near the borders of Con 
states, necticut, and sent forward a division under General Gates 
to Danbury. The roads were repaired as far as Hartford, 
to facilitate the march of the troops, and three brigades 
were despatched to that place. General Gates went to 
Boston, and took command of the eastern department, as 
successor to General Heath. These operations kept the 
army employed on the east side of the Hudson more 
than four months, till it was finally ascertained that the 
enemy had no designs in that direction. 
Events in Sir Henry Clinton took care to profit by this diversion 

New Jersey. *-..'. -n j 

oi the American army. r oraging parties passed over to 
New Jersey, and ravaged the country. One of these par 
ties attacked Baylor's dragoons in the night, at a short 
distance from Tappan, rushing upon them with the bay 
onet and committing indiscriminate slaughter. A similar 
assault was made upon Pulaski's legion at Egg Harbor. 
Both these adventures were attended with such acts of 
cruelty on the part of the enemy, as are seldom practised 
Mistaken in civilized warfare. And they were not less impolitic 

policy of the J 

enemy. than cruel, being regarded with universal indignation and 
horror by the people, and exciting a spirit of hatred and 
revenge, which would necessarily react in one form or 
another upon their foes. In fact this point of policy was 
strangely misunderstood by the British, or more strangely 
perverted, at every stage of the contest. They had many 
friends in the country, whom it was their interest to re 
tain, and they professed a desire to conciliate others ; yet 

. 46.] 



they burned and destroyed towns, villages, and detached CHAPTER 



farm houses, plundered the inhabitants without distinction, 
and brought down the savages with the tomahawk and 
scalping-knife upon the defenceless frontier settlements, 
marking their course in every direction with murder, deso 
lation, and ruin. The ministry approved and encouraged 
these atrocities, flattering themselves that the people would 
sink under their sufferings, bewail their unhappy condition, 
become tired of the war, and compel their leaders to seek 
an accommodation. The effect was directly the contrary 
in every instance. The people knew their rights, and 
had the common feelings of humanity ; and, when the 
former were wantonly invaded and the latter outraged, it 
was natural that their passions should be inflamed, and 
that they who were at first pacifically inclined should be 
roused to resistance and retaliation. If the British cabinet 
had aimed to defeat its own objects, and to consolidate 
the American people into a united phalanx of opposi 
tion, it could not have chosen or pursued more effectual 

The campaign being closed, General Washington pre- Army go 

_ . into winter 

pared to put the army into winter quarters. Nine brig- quarters, 
ades were stationed on the west side of Hudson's River, 
exclusive of the garrison at West Point. One of these 
was near Smith's Clove, where it could serve as a rein 
forcement to West Point, should this be necessary : one 
at Elizabethtown ; and the other seven at Middlebrook, 
which place was likewise selected for head-quarters. Six 
brigades were cantoned on the east side of the Hudson 
and at West Point, as follows ; one at West Point, two 
at the Continental Village, a post between Fishkill and 
West Point, and three in the vicinity of Danbury in Con 
necticut. The artillery was at Pluckemin. A line of 
cantonments was thus formed around New York from 
Long Island Sound to the Delaware, so disposed as to 
afford security to the country, and to reinforce each other 
in case of an excursion of the enemy to any particular 
point. The other important objects intended by this dis- 



CHAPTER position were the comfort, discipline, and easy subsistence 
XL of the troops. General Putnam commanded at Danbury, 
1778. and General M c Dougall in the Highlands. In the expec 
tation that the British detachments, which sailed from 
New York, might act in the winter against South Caro 
lina and Georgia, General Lincoln was sent by order 
of Congress to take the command of the southern de 

The four regiments of cavalry were widely separated ; 
one being at Winchester in Virginia, another at Frederic 
in Maryland, a third at Lancaster in Pennsylvania, and a 
fourth at Durham in Connecticut. These cantonments 
were chosen apparently with a view to the convenience 
of procuring forage. 

Exchange of The exchange of prisoners continued to be a trouble 
some and perplexing subject. Arrangements had been 
made with Sir William Howe, before he left Philadelphia, 
by which exchanges to a certain extent had been effected. 
But new difficulties arose in regard to what were called 
the Convention Troops. Although Congress had ratified 
the convention of Saratoga, yet for various reasons they 
did not permit Burgoyne's army to embark for Europe 

convention according to the terms of that convention. Washington 
had no concern with this affair, except to execute the 
orders of Congress. These troops being thus retained in 
the country, it was finally agreed, on the part of the 
British commander, that they should be exchanged for 
American prisoners in his hands. But the conditions pre 
scribed by Congress were such, that it was a long time 
before the object was attained. They proposed that offi 
cers of equal rank should first be exchanged ; next, su 
perior officers for an equivalent number of inferior ; and 
if, after all the officers of the enemy should be exchang 
ed, there should still be a surplus of American officers 
among the prisoners, they were to be exchanged for an 
equivalent number of privates of the convention troops. 

obstacles to This principle was objected to by Sir Henry Clinton 

of prisoners, on two grounds ; first, it separated the officers from the 

M.T. 46.] 



corps to whicli they were attached ; and, secondly, it gave CHAPTER 
an advantage to the Americans, inasmuch as their officers XL 
could go immediately into active service, whereas the Brit- 1778. 
ish officers must remain idle till the privates constituting 
the corps to which they belonged should be released. Con 
gress did not choose to relax from their resolves, and the 
business of exchange was a perpetual source of vexation. 
In short, the interests of the two parties were so much 
at variance, that it was not easy to reconcile them. The 
difficulty of procuring soldiers in Europe, and the great 
expense of bringing them over and maintaining them, ren 
dered every man of vastly more importance to the British 
army, than in the American ranks, which could be filled 
up with militia when the occasion required. Hence the 
British general was always extremely solicitous to procure 
the exchange of his private soldiers, and Congress equally 
averse to gratifying him in this point. There was an 
other reason, which operated with considerable weight on 
both sides. The British prisoners were mostly German 
troops, who had no affection for the cause in which they 
were engaged, and who, while in the country under a 
loose system of military discipline, had many facilities and 
temptations to desert. 

There was another cause of anxiety in the breast of Jealousies 
Washington, which began now to be felt more seriously dissensions 
than at any former period of the war. The men of tal 
ents and influence, who had taken the lead and combined 
their strength in raising the standard of independence, 
had gradually withdrawn from Congress, till that body 
was left small in number, and comparatively feeble in 
counsels and resource. For the year past, the number 
of delegates present had seldom averaged over thirty, and 
sometimes it was under twenty-five. Whole States were 
frequently unrepresented; and indeed it was seldom, that 
every State was so fully represented as to entitle it to a 
vote. And at no time were private jealousies and party 
feuds more rife or mischievous in their effects. These 
symptoms were alarming to every true friencl of his coun- 


CHAPTER try, who reflected on their tendency, and they filled the 
XL mind of Washington with deep concern. To those, in 
1778. w hom he had confidence, he laid open his fears, and en 
deavored to awaken a sense of the public danger. His 
sentiments and his apprehensions are forcibly expressed 
in a letter to Mr. Benjamin Harrison of Virginia. 
Necessity of " It appears as clear to me," he said, " as ever the sun 


seal and did in its meridian brightness, that America never stood 
in more eminent need of the wise, patriotic, and spirited 
exertions of her sons than at this period ; and, if it is 
not a sufficient cause for general lamentation, my mis 
conception of the matter impresses it too strongly upon 
me, that the States, separately, are too much engaged in 
their local concerns, and have too many of their ablest 
men withdrawn from the general council, for the good of 
the common weal. In a word, I think our political sys 
tem may be compared to the mechanism of a clock, and 
that we should derive a lesson from it ; for it answers 
no good purpose to keep the smaller wheels in order, if 
the greater one, which is the support and prime mover 
of the whole, is neglected. 

The ablest How far the latter is the case, it does not become 

men wanted ' 

in congress. me to pronounce ; but, as there can be no harm in a pious 
wish for the good of one's country, I shall offer it as mine, 
that each State would not only choose, but absolutely 
compel their ablest men to attend Congress ; and that 
they would instruct them to go into a thorough investi 
gation of the causes, that have produced so many disagree 
able effects in the army and country ; in , a word, that 
public abuses should be corrected. Without this, it does 
not in my judgment require the spirit of divination to 
foretell the consequences of the present administration ; nor 
to how little purpose the States individually are framing 
constitutions, providing laws, and filling offices with the 
abilities of their ablest men. These, if the great whole 
is mismanaged, must sink in the general wreck, which 
will carry with it the remorse of thinking that we are 
lost by our own folly and negligence, or by the desire 


perhaps of living in ease and tranquillity during the ex- CHAPTER 
pected accomplishment of so great a revolution, in the ef- XL 

fecting of which, the greatest abilities, and the most honest 1778. 
men, our American world affords, ought to be employed. 

" It is much to be feared, my dear Sir, that the States, Apathy of 

3 ' . . ' the separate 

in their separate capacities, have very inadequate ideas of states. 
the present danger. Many persons removed far distant 
from the scene of action, and seeing and hearing such 
publications only, as flatter their wishes, conceive that the 
contest is at an end, and that to regulate the government 
and police of their own State is all that remains to be 
done ; but it is devoutly to be wished that a sad reverse 
of this may not fall upon them like a thunder-clap, that 
is little expected. I do not mean to designate particular 
States. I wish to cast no reflections upon any one. The 
public believe (and, if they do believe it, the fact might 
almost as well be so), that the States at this time are 
badly represented, and that the great and important con 
cerns of the nation are horribly conducted, for want either 
of abilities or application in the members, or through the 
discord and party views of some individuals. That they 
should be so, is to be lamented more at this time than 
formerly, as we are far advanced in the dispute, and, in 
the opinion of many, drawing to a happy period j we have 
the eyes of Europe upon us, and I am persuaded many 
political spies to watch, who discover our situation and 
give information of our weaknesses and wants." 

The conquest of Canada was always a favorite project Project for 
with Congress ; and at this time, when the British forces Canada, 
were divided by being employed against the French in 
the West Indies, it was thought that a good opportunity 
offered itself for turning the arms of the United States 
against that province. After the termination of the affair 
at Long Island, the Marquis de Lafayette went to Phila 
delphia, and obtained a furlough from Congress, with the 
intention of returning to France on a short visit. In con 
cert with him a plan was formed of an attack on Canada, 
which was to be the principal object of the ensuing cam- 



r. 46 


P!*n of a 

attack on 

by Wash- 

reasons for 
not attack 
ing Canada. 

paign, and the basis of which was a cooperation with a 
French fleet and army. Lafayette was to have full in 
structions for arranging the matter with the court of Ver 
sailles, aided by the counsel and support of Dr. Franklin, 
then the American plenipotentiary in France. 

The plan was on a very large scale. Attacks were to 
be made by the American army at three points far distant 
from each other, namely, Detroit, Niagara, and by way 
of the Connecticut River ; while a French fleet should as 
cend the St. Lawrence, with four or five thousand troops, 
and act against Quebec. The scheme was discussed, 
matured, and approved with much unanimity in Congress, 
and then sent to Washington with the request that he 
would communicate his sentiments. He replied in a long 
despatch, entering minutely into the subject, and showing 
that the plan was impracticable ; that it required resources 
in troops and money, which were not to be had ; that 
it would involve Congress in engagements to their ally, 
which it would be impossible to- fulfil ; and that it was 
in itself so extensive and complicated, as to hold out no 
reasonable hope of success, even with all the requisite 
means of pursuing it. 

Such was his opinion in a military view. But the sub 
ject presented itself to him in another aspect, in which 
he thought it deserved 'special consideration. Canada for 
merly belonged to France, and had been severed from her 
in a manner, which, if not humiliating to her pride, con 
tributed nothing to her glory. Would she not be eager 
to recover this lost province ? If it should be conquered 
with her aid, would she not claim it at the peace as 
rightfully belonging to her, and be able to advance plau 
sible reasons for such a demand? Would not the acqui 
sition itself hold out a strong temptation ? The territory 
abounded in supplies for the use of her Islands, it opened 
a wide field of commerce with the Indian nations, it 
would give her the command of posts on this continent 
independent of the precarious good will of an ally, it 
would put her in a condition to engross the whole trade of 

^Ex. 46.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 289 

Newfoundland, and above all, it would afford her facilities CHAPTER 
for awing and controlling the United States, "the natural XL 
and most formidable rival of every maritime power in 1778. 
Europe." He added, "France, acknowledged for some 
time past the most powerful monarchy in Europe by land, 
able now to dispute the empire of the sea with Great 
Britain, and, if joined with Spain, I may say, certainly 
superior, possessed of New Orleans on our right, Canada 
on our left, and seconded by the numerous tribes of In 
dians in our rear from one extremity to the other, a peo 
ple so generally friendly to her, and whom she knows so 
well how to conciliate, would, it is much to be appre 
hended, have it in her power to give law to these States." 

These sentiments, he said, did not grow out of any Canada, if 
distrust of the good faith of France in the alliance she would re-' 
had formed. On the contrary, he was willing to enter- France at a 

treaty of 

tain and cherish the most favorable impressions, in regard peace. 
to her motives and aims. " But," he added again, " it is 
a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, 
that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound 
by its interest ; and no prudent statesman or politician 
will venture to depart from it. In our circumstances we 
ought to be particularly cautious ; for we have not yet 
attained sufficient vigor and maturity to recover from the 
shock of any false step, into which we may unwarily 
fall. If France should even engage in the scheme, in 
the first instance, with the purest intentions, there is the 
greatest danger, that, in the progress of the business, in 
vited to it by circumstances, and perhaps urged on by 
the solicitations and wishes of the Canadians, she would 
alter her views." In short, allowing all his apprehen 
sions to be unfounded, he was still reluctant to multiply 
national obligations, or to give to any foreign power 
claims of merit for services performed beyond what was 
absolutely indispensable. 

The observations and reasonings of the Commander-in- objections 
chief were so far operative on Congress, as to induce them 

at once to narrow their scheme, though not entirely to 
37 D2 


CHAPTER give it up. They participated in the general opinion, 

" that the war with France would necessarily employ the 

1778. British fleet and troops in other parts of the world, and 
that they would soon evacuate the towns on the seacoast 
of the United States. In this event, they thought an 
( expedition against Canada should still be the object of 
the campaign, and that preparations should accordingly 
be made. They requested General Washington to write 
to Dr. Franklin, and the Marquis de Lafayette, who was 
then at Boston, ready to depart for Europe, and state to 
them such details as might be laid before the French 
court, in order that eventual measures might be taken for 
cooperation in case an armament should be sent to due- 
bee from France. The plan in this shape, however, was 
not more satisfactory to him, than in its original form. 
He saw no reason for supposing the British would evacu 
ate the States, and he believed a system of operations 
built upon that basis would fail. At any rate he was not 
prepared -to hazard the responsibility of drawing the French 
government into a measure so full of uncertainty, and de 
pending on so many contingencies. 

Washington The army being now in winter quarters, and his pres- 
gress. s '" ence with it not being essential, he suggested the ex 
pediency of a personal interview with the members of 
Congress, in which his sentiments could he more fully 
explained than by writing. This proposition was approv 
ed. He -arrived in Philadelphia on the 24th of Decem 
ber, and, after several discussions between him and a 
committee of Congress, the Canada scheme was wholly 
laid aside, 
views of It is a remarkable fact, as connected with the above 

the French . . , . . , .. , n T- i 

government suspicions on political grounds, that the French govern- 
in regard to 1 . 1 -M -, T 

Canada. ment was decidedly opposed to an expedition against 
Canada. The French minister in the United States was 
instructed, before he left France, not to favor any projects 
of conquest ; and it was the policy of the court of Ver 
sailles, that Canada and Nova Scotia should remain in the 
power of Great Britain. The reasons for this policy may 

JEx. 46.] 




not be obvious ; but the fact is unquestionable. It is to CHAPTER 
be considered, however, that France had by treaty pledged XL 
herself to carry on the war, till the independence of the 
United States should be secured ; but she had not en 
gaged to fight for conquests, nor for the extension of the 
territories of the United States beyond their original limits. 
Such an engagement would have bound her to continue 
the war indefinitely, with no other object than to gratify 
the ambition or enmity of her ally, while every motive 
of interest and of national honor might prompt her to seek 
for peace. It was evident, too, that the pride of England, 
humbled by conceding the independence of her revolted 
colonies, would never brook the severance of her other 
provinces by the direct agency of France. All conquests 
thus made, therefore, would perplex the negotiations for 
peace, and might involve France in a protracted war, 
without the least prospect of advantage to herself. Hence 
she resolved to adhere strictly to her pledge in the treaty 
of alliance. But, although the French minister in Ameri 
ca was instructed not to hold out encouragement of co 
operation in plans of conquest, yet he was at the same 
time directed not to throw any obstacles in the way 
thus leaving the United States to decide and act for them 
selves. Should they gain conquests by their own strength, 
these might reasonably be claimed by them in a treaty 
of peace, without embarrassing the relations between France 
and England. 



. 46. 


Conferences with a Committee of Congress, and Plans for the next Cam 
paign. Sullivan's Expedition against the Indians. The Enemy com 
mence a predatory Warfare. The Burning of New Haven, Fairfield, 
and Norwalk. Stony Point stormed and taken. Successful Enterprise 
against Paulus Hook. Washington's Interviews with the French Min 
ister. Plans proposed for cooperating with Count d'Estaing. The Army 
goes into Winter Quarters. Depreciation of the Currency, and its Effects. 
Arrival of the Marquis de Lafayette, with the Intelligence that a 
French Armament was on its Way to the United States. The Army 
takes a Position near Hudson's River. The French Squadron arrives at 
Newport. Count de Rochambeau's Instructions. French Fleet block 
aded. Interview between General Washington and the French Com 
mander at Hartford. The Treason of Arnold. Plans for attacking 
New York. 

GENERAL Washington remained in Philadelphia about 
five weeks, holding conferences with a committee of Con- 
1779. gress, and making arrangements for the campaign of 1779. 
He suggested three plans, with remarks on the mode of 
executing them, and the probable result of each. The 
first plan had in view an attempt to drive the enemy 
from their posts on the seacoast ; the second, an attack 
on Niagara, and an offensive position in that quarter ; 
and, by the third, it was proposed to hold the army en 
tirely on the defensive, except such operations as would 
be necessary to chastise the Indians, who had committed 
depredations on the frontiers during the past year, and 
who, emboldened by success, might be expected to repeat 
their ravages. 

After mature deliberation, and taking into the account 
the exhausted state of the country in regard both to pe 
cuniary resources and supplies for an army, it was decided 
to adopt the third plan as the best suited to circumstan 
ces, the least expensive, and perhaps the most beneficial 
in its ultimate effects. It would afford an opportunity to 

plan adopt 


retrench the heavy charges of the war, and to pursue a CHAPTER 
system of economy imperiously demanded by the financial 
embarrassments in which Congress had become involved, 1779. 
and thus enable them to do something for the relief of 
public credit, and for restoring the value of the currency, 
which was fast sinking into disrepute, unsettling prices, 
and threatening ruin to almost every branch of industry. 
It would also give repose to the country, and, by leaving 
a larger number of laborers to cultivate the soil, contri 
bute to increase the supplies so much wanted for the 
comfort of the people, as well as for the subsistence of 
the army. 

This plan had its disadvantages. The inactivity in Disadvan- 
military operations might be thought to imply weakness, 
and thus injure the credit of the nation with foreign pow 
ers, dispirit the people at home, give confidence to the 
disaffected, and afford leisure for the factious and discon 
tented to foment divisions. These inconveniences were, 
nevertheless, in the opinion of General Washington, more 
than balanced by other considerations ; and he recommend 
ed the defensive system, preferring what he deemed the 
greatest public good to the glory that might be acquired 
by large military enterprises, even with a fair prospect 
of success. After the alliance with France, and especially 
after the indications given by Spain of an approaching 
war between that power and England, he had no doubt 
that the independence of the United States would be se 
cured at the peace, whenever it should happen. It was 
evident, moreover, that England, being thus employed by 
her European foes, could not enlarge her army to a for 
midable extent in America. In his view, therefore, it 
was not expedient to exhaust the country and multiply 
the calamities of war by extraordinary exactions for mili 
tary undertakings, which, although they might annoy the 
enemy, and perhaps drive them from one post to an 
other, could not hasten the desired end, depending as it 
now did mainly on events beyond the control of the 
United States. By an ambitious chieftain, aiming only 

294 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [yEr. 46. 

CHAPTER to aggrandize himself and establish his power, the sub- 
XIL ject might, have been regarded in a different light; but 
1779. the designs and actions of Washington centred in nobler 
objects, the freedom, tranquillity, and happiness of his 
country, in which he was to participate equally with every 
other citizen, neither seeking nor expecting any other pre 
eminence than that of having been an instrument in the 
hand of Providence for effecting so great a good in so 
just a cause, nor any other reward than the conscious 
ness of having done his duty, and the enjoyment in 
common with his countrymen of the benefits flowing from 
his services. 

organization Having completed all the necessary arrangements with 
Congress, he returned to head-quarters at Middlebrook. 
The infantry of the Continental army was organized for 
the campaign in eighty-eight battalions, apportioned to 
the several States according to the ratio hitherto assumed. 
There were four regiments of cavalry and forty-nine com 
panies of artillery. 

Bounties to As the term of service, for which a large number of 
the troops had been engaged, would expire in a few 
weeks, the business of recruiting was begun without de 
lay. The irregular, and in some cases enormous, bounties 
given by the States had operated in such a manner, as 
almost to defeat any attempt to enlist soldiers in camp. 
Even those, who intended to reenlist, were lured away 
by the prospect of State bounties, and were thus absent 
from the army till they could go home and come back 
with the new recruits. This evil was partially remedied 
by a resolve of Congress, making it the business of each 
State to fill up its quota and pay the bounties, giving 
credit to such State for the Continental bounty of every 
soldier enlisted in its quota. Whether the soldier was 
enlisted in camp or at home, the same rule applied, so 
that it equalized the bounties throughout the line of a 
particular State. But the States themselves gave various 
bounties, causing an inequality among the different lines ; 
and for this there was no remedy, except a uniform sys- 


tern in all the States, which was never pursued. The CHAPTER 

Continental bounty was raised to two hundred dollars, . X1L 

besides land and clothing; and in several instances the 1779. 
State bounty was much larger. The value of labor had 
risen so much during the war, partly from an increased 
demand, and partly from the depreciation of the currency, 
that a soldier could obtain, in almost any other service, 
higher wages than the amount of his pay and bounty 
in the army. 

The objects of the campaign not requiring so large a Baron 
number of men in the field as on former occasions, it 
was intended to bestow the more attention upon their dis 
cipline and practical skill. Baron "Steuben, trained in the 
wars and under the eye of Frederic the Great, had been 
appointed inspector-general of the army the year before. 
He wrote a system of tactics, which was published, adopt 
ed, and put in practice. His services were of great impor 
tance, both as an experienced officer, and as a successful 
teacher of his system, by which the discipline of the 
army was much improved, and the discordant exercises 
and evolutions of the troops from different States were 
reduced to method and uniformity. 

The winter and the spring passed away without the British re- 
occurrence of any remarkable event. The British re- New York, 
mained within their lines at New York, showing no dis 
position for hazardous adventures, and apparently making 
no preparation for any enterprise .of magnitude into the 

General Washington in the mean time turned his Expedition 
thoughts to the fitting out of an expedition against the 
Indians. The confederated Indians of the Six Nations, 
except the Oneidas and a few of the Mohawks, influenced 
by Sir John Johnson and British agents from Canada, 
became hostile to the United States, although at first they 
pretended to a sort of neutrality. Joined by a band of 
Tories, and persons of abandoned principles collected from 
various parts, they fell upon the frontier settlements, and 
waged the most cruel and destructive war against the 



. 47. 


Success of 
the expedi 

CHAPTER defenceless and unoffending inhabitants. The massacres 
at Cherry Valley and Wyoming had filled every breast 
with horror, and humanity cried aloud for vengeance on 
the perpetrators of such deeds of atrocity. To break 
up these hordes of banditti, or at all events to drive 
them back and lay waste their territories, was the object 
of the expedition. 

Four thousand Continental troops were detached for 
the purpose, who were joined by militia from the State 
of New York and independent companies from Pennsyl 
vania. The command of the whole was given to General 
Sullivan. Three thousand men rendezvoused at Wyoming, 
where General Sullivan first established his head-quarters, 
and from which place he proceeded up the Susquehanna 
River into the Indian country. At the same time Gen 
eral James Clinton advanced with another division from 
the Mohawk River, by way of Otsego Lake and the east 
branch of the Susquehanna, and formed a junction with 
Sullivan near the fork, where the two main branches of 
the river unite. The army, then amounting to about five 
thousand men, including militia, marched into the wilder 
ness towards the Indian settlements. It was met and op 
posed by a body of Tories and Indians, who were soon 
routed and driven back. There was no other encounter, 
except slight skirmishes with small parties. Sullivan pur 
sued a circuitous route as far as the Genessee River, de 
stroying all the villages, houses, corn, and provisions, which 
fell in his way. Every habitation was deserted, the In 
dians having retired with their families to the neighbor 
hood of Niagara, where they were protected and supplied 
by a British garrison. The purpose of the expedition be 
ing attained, the army retraced its steps down the Susque 
hanna, to Wyoming, and arrived there after an absence 
of a little more than two months. 

Sir Henry Clinton early in the spring sent a detach 
ment of two thousand five hundred men to Yirginia, 
commanded by General Mathews. They landed at Ports 
mouth, sacked the town, marched to Suffolk, destroyed 

attack on 


a magazine of provisions in that place, burnt the village CHAPTER 
and several detached private houses, and seized large X1L 
quantities of tobacco. Many vessels were likewise captur- 1779. 
ed, others were burnt and sunk, and much plunder was 
taken. With this booty they returned to New York. The 
enterprise was executed in conformity with orders from 
the ministry, who, after the' ill success of their commis 
sioners, had adopted the policy of a predatory warfare 
on the seacoast, with the design of destroying the towns, 
ships, and magazines, conceiving, as expressed by Lord 
George Germain, " that a war of this sort, carried on with 
spirit and humanity, would probably induce the rebellious 
provinces to return to their allegiance, or at least prevent 
their sending out that swarm of privateers, the success 
of which had encouraged them to persevere in their 

When the squadron returned from Virginia, it was im- British take 

possess ion 

mediately joined by other vessels having on board a large of stony 
body of troops, all of which sailed up Hudson's River. 
This expedition was conducted by Sir Henry Clinton in 
person, and his first object was to take the posts at Stony 
Point and Verplanck's Point, situate on opposite sides of 
the Hudson, where the Americans had thrown up works 
to protect King's Ferry, the main channel of communica 
tion between the eastern and middle States. Should cir 
cumstances favor so bold an experiment, he intended 
next to endeavor to force his way into the Highlands, 
make himself master of the fortifications and strong pass 
es, and thus secure the command of the Hudson. 

Being informed of the preparations in New York, and Washington 
penetrating the designs of the British commander, Wash- further ad- 

. vance of the 

mgton was at hand in time to prevent the execution of enemy, 
the second part of the scheme. By rapid marches he 
drew his troops from their cantonments in New Jersey, 
and placed them in such positions as to discourage Sir 
Henry Clinton from attempting any thing further, than 
the capture of the two posts above mentioned, which 
were in no condition to resist a formidable fleet and an 


CHAPTER army of more than six thousand men. After this event, 

XIL which happened on the 1st of June, Clinton withdrew 

1779> his forces down the river, and at length to New York, 

leaving a strong garrison at each of the posts, with or 

ders to extend and complete the works begun by the 

Americans ; and also directing such a number of armed 

vessels and boats to remain there, as would be necessary 

to furnish supplies and contribute to their defence. 

Head-quar- General Washington removed his head-quarters to New 

to New Windsor, a few miles above West Point, distributing his 

Windsor. ' 7 

army chiefly in and near the Highlands, but stationing a 
23 ' force on each side of the river below, sufficient to check 

any sudden incursion of the enemy. 

Burning of The system of devastation and plunder was vigorously 
' P ursue ^- About the beginning of July a detachment of 

walk. two thousand six hundred men, under Governor Tryon, 

sailed from New York into Long Island Sound. They 
first landed at New Haven, plundered the inhabitants in 
discriminately, and burnt the stores on the wharfs. This 
being done, they embarked, and landed at Fairfield and 
Norwalk, which towns were reduced to ashes. Dwelling- 
houses, shops, churches, school houses, and the shipping 
in the harbors, were destroyed. The soldiers pillaged 
without restraint, committing acts of violence, and exhib 
iting the horrors of war in some of their most revolting 
forms. It does not appear that there were troops, maga 
zines, or public property in either of the towns. The 
waste and distress fell on individuals, who were pursu 
ing the ordinary occupations of life. The people rallied 
in self-defence, and a few were killed ; but the enemy 
retired to their vessels before the militia could assemble 
in large numbers. 

Washington The British commander hoped that this invasion of 
attack stony Connecticut would draw away the American army from 
the Highlands to a position where he might bring on an 
engagement under favorable circumstances. Washington's 
habitual caution guarded him against allowing such an ad 
vantage. On the contrary, while the enemy's forces were 


thus divided, he resolved to attack the strong post at 
Stony Point. " The necessity of doing something to 
satisfy the expectations of the people and reconcile them 1779 
to th'e defensive plan, which he was obliged to pursue, the 
value of the acquisition in itself, with respect to the men, 
artillery, and stores, which composed the garrison, the 
effect it would have upon the successive operations of the 
campaign, and the check it would give to the depreda 
tions of the enemy, " were, as he said, the motives which 
prompted him to this undertaking. He reconnoitred the 
post himself, and instructed Major Henry Lee, who was 
stationed near it with a party of cavalry, to gain all the 
information in his power as to the condition of the works 
and the strength of the garrison. 

The enterprise was intrusted to General Wayne, who General 
commanded a body of light infantry in advance of the ayne 
main army, where he was placed to watch the move- 
ments of the enemy, to prevent their landing, and to at 
tack separate parties whenever opportunities should offer. 
Having procured all the requisite information, and deter 
mined to make the assault, Washington communicated 
general instructions to Wayne in writing and conversation, 
leaving the rest to the well tried bravery and skill of that 
gallant officer. 

The night of the 15th July was fixed on for the attack, storming of 
After a march of fourteen miles during the afternoon, the 
party arrived within a mile and a half of the enemy at 
eight o'clock in the evening. The works were then re 
connoitred by the commander and the principal officers, 
and at half past eleven the whole moved forward in two 
columns to the assault. The van of the right column 
consisted of one hundred and fifty volunteers with unloaded 
muskets and fixed bayonets, preceded by twenty picked 
men to remove the abatis and other obstructions. One 
hundred volunteers, preceded likewise by twenty men, 
composed the van of the left. Positive orders were given 
not to fire, but to rely wholly on the bayonet, which 
orders were faithfully obeyed. A deep morass in front of 



[JET. 47 

Success of 
the assault. 

CHAPTER the enemy's works, and a double row of abatis, retarded 

XII> their progress ; but these obstacles were soon overcome 

1779. by the ardor of the troops, and the assault began about 

twenty minutes after twelve. From that time they pushed 

forward in the face of a tremendous fire of musketry and 

of cannon loaded with grapeshot, and both columns met 

in the centre of the enemy's works, each arriving nearly 

at the same instant. General Wayne, who advanced with 

the right column, received a slight wound in the head, 

and was supported into the works by his aids-de-camp. 

The assault was successful in all its parts. The num 
ber of prisoners was five hundred and forty-three, and the 
number killed on the side of the enemy was sixty-three. 
Of the assailing party fifteen were killed, and eighty-three 
wounded. Several cannons and mortars of various sizes, 
a large number of muskets, shells, shot, and tents, and a 
proportional quantity of stores, were taken. The action 
is allowed to have been one of the most brilliant of the 
revolution. Congress passed resolves complimentary to the 
officers and privates, granting specific rewards, and di 
recting the value of all the military stores taken in the 
garrison to be divided among the troops in proportion to 
the pay of the officers and men. Three different medals 
were ordered to be struck, emblematical of the action, 
and awarded respectively to General Wayne, Colonel Fleu- 
ry, and Colonel Stewart. Congress also passed a vote of 
thanks to General Washington " for the vigilance, wisdom, 
and magnanimity, with which he had conducted the 
military operations of the States," and especially as mani 
fested in his orders for the late attack. 

It was his first intention, if the storming of Stony 
Point should prove successful, to make an immediate at 
tempt against Verplanck's Point, on the opposite side of 
the river. For this purpose he had requested General 
Wayne to forward the intelligence to head-quarters through 
the hands of General M c Dougall, who commanded at West 
Point, and who would be in readiness to send down a 
detachment by the way of Peekskill to attack Verplanck's 


attack upon 


Point on the land side, while it was cannonaded from CHAPTER 
Stony Point across the river. By some misunderstanding, __^!: 
the messenger neglected to call at West Point, and 1779> 
thus several hours were lost before General M c Dougall 
received the intelligence. To this delay has been as 
cribed the failure of the undertaking against Verplanck's 
Point. From the letters of General M c Dougall and other 
officers written at the time, however, it is evident that 
the want of horses and conveniences for the transporta 
tion of artillery was such, as to render it impossible in 
any event to arrive at Verplanck's Point with the ade 
quate means of assault, before the enemy had assembled 
a sufficient force to give entire security to the garrison. 

When Washington examined Stony Point after the stony point 


capture, he resolved to evacuate the post, remove the 
cannon and stores, and destroy the works. -Being accessi 
ble by the enemy's vessels of war, a larger number of 
men would be required for the defence than could prop 
erly be spared from the main army ; and at the same 
time it might be necessary to hazard a general action, 
which was by no means to be desired on such terms as 
would be imposed, and for such an object. Every thing 
was brought off, except one heavy cannon. The enemy 
afterwards reoccupied the post, and repaired the works. 

About a -month after the storming of Stony Point, pauiusHook 

surprised by 

another enterprise similar in its character, and not less Major Lee. 
daring, was executed by Major Henry Lee. At the head August 19. 
of three hundred men, and a troop of dismounted dra 
goons, he surprised the enemy's post at Paulus Hook, 
opposite to New York, and took one hundred and fifty- 
nine prisoners, having two only of his party killed and 
three wounded. The plan originated with Major Lee, 
and great praise was bestowed upon him for the address 
and bravery with which it was executed. A medal of 
gold, commemorative of the event, was ordered by Con 
gress to be struck and presented to him. 

No other events of much importance happened in the works at 
army under Washington's immediate command during the constructed. 




[JET. 47 


CHAPTER campaign. The British troops remained inactive at New 
XIL York, and the Americans held their ground in the High 
lands. In the course of this year the works at West 
Point and in its vicinity were chiefly constructed. A 
part of the time two thousand five hundred men were 
on fatigue duty every day. Before the end of July the 
head-quarters of the Commander-in-chief were removed 
to West Point, where he continued for the rest of the 

As few incidents of a personal nature intervene to vary 
the monotony of military operations, and of the great 
public affairs which occupied the thoughts of Washington, 
it may not be amiss to insert here a letter inviting a 
friend to dine with him at head-quarters. It gives an 
idea of the manner in which he lived, and shows that 
he could sometimes be playful, even when oppressed with 
public cares, and in the midst of the harassing duties 
of his command. The letter is addressed to Dr. Cochran, 
surgeon-general in the army, and dated at West Point on 
the 16th of August. 
" Dear Doctor, 

" I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston to 
dine with me to-morrow ; but am I not in honor bound 
to apprize them of their fare ? As I hate deception, even 
where the imagination only is concerned, I will. It is 
needless to premise, that my table is large enough to hold 
the ladies. Of this they had ocular proof yesterday. To 
say how it is usually covered, is rather more essential ; 
and this shall be the purport of my letter. 

" Since our arrival at this happy spot, we have had a 
ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon, to grace the head 
of the table ; a piece of roast beef adorns the foot ; and 
a dish of beans, or greens, almost imperceptible, decorates 
the centre. When the cook has a mind to cut a figure ; 
which I presume will be the case to-morrow, we have 
two beefsteak pies, or dishes of crabs, in addition, one 
on each side of the centre dish, dividing the space and 
reducing the distance between dish and dish to about 

Letter to Dr. 


six feet, which without them would be nearly twelve CHAPTER 
feet apart. Of late he has had the surprising sagacity to XIL 
discover, that apples will make pies; and it is a question, 1779. 
if, in the violence of his efforts, we do not get one of 
apples, iiiFtead of having both of beefsteaks. If the 
ladies can put up with such entertainment, and will sub 
mit to partake of it on plates, once tin but now iron 
(not become so by the labor of scouring), I shall be 
happy to see them ; and am, dear Doctor, yours." 

Sir Henry Clinton, disappointed in not receiving addi- British Gen- 

eral medi- 

tions to his army from Europe, began to be weary of 
his situation, and to despair of effecting any thing that 
would either redound to the glory of the British arms, 
or answer the expectations of his employers. On the 21st 
of August he said, in a letter to Lord George Germain, 
" I now find myself obliged by many cogent reasons to 
abandon every view of making an effort in this quarter. 
The precautions, which General Washington has had 
leisure to take, make me hopeless of bringing him to a 
general action, and the season dissuades me strongly from 
losing time in the attempt." He informs the minister, 
that his thoughts are turned to the south, that he shall 
put New York in a complete state of defence, withdraw 
his troops from the posts on the Hudson, and sail for 
South Carolina with a large part of his army as soon as 
the season will permit him to act in that climate. 

After Count d'Estaing left the harbor of Boston, he concerted 
proceeded to the West Indies, where he operated during tion between 
the winter, took St. Vincent and Grenada, and had a squadron 

and Ameri- 

naval engagement with Admiral Byron's fleet. It was can forces, 
expected, that he would return to the United States in 
the course of the summer, and M. Gerard, the French 
minister in Philadelphia, held several conferences with a 
committee of Congress respecting a concerted plan of 
action between the French squadron and the American 
forces. For the same object M. Gerard went to camp, and 
held interviews with the Commander-in-chief, to whom 
Congress delegated the power of arranging and executing 



. 4 


opinion of 

Rhode Is 
land evacu 

October 21. 

the whole business in such a manner as his judgment 
and prudence should dictate. Various plans were suggest 
ed and partly matured ; but, as the unfortunate repulse 
of the French and American troops in their assault on Sa 
vannah, and the subsequent departure of Count d'Estaing 
from the coast, prevented their being carried into execu 
tion, they need not be explained in this place. 

The intercourse with Washington on this occasion left 
favorable impressions on the mind of the French minister. 
In a letter to Count de Vergennes, written from camp, 
he said ; " I have had many conversations with General 
Washington, some of which have continued for three 
hours. It is impossible for me briefly to communicate the 
fund of intelligence, which I have derived from him ; but 
I shall do it in my letters as occasions shall present them 
selves. I will now say only, that I have formed as high 
an opinion of the powers of his mind, his moderation, 
his patriotism, and his virtues, as I had before from com 
mon report conceived of his military talents, and of the 
incalculable services he has rendered to his country." 
The same sentiments were often repeated by the successor 
of M. Gerard, and contributed to establish the unbounded 
confidence, which the French government placed in the 
American commander during the war. 

Although the plans of cooperation failed, yet they were 
serviceable in embarrassing the schemes of the enemy. 
As soon as it was known that Count d'Estaing had ar 
rived in Georgia, Sir Henry Clinton naturally supposed 
that he would proceed northward, and unite with Wash 
ington in, a combined attack on New York. Alarmed 
for his safety in such an event, he caused Rhode Island 
to be evacuated, and drew to New York the garrison, 
which had been stationed nearly three years at that 
place, consisting at times of about six thousand men. 
Stony Point and Verplanck's Point were likewise evacu 
ated. The appearance of Count d'Estaing's fleet on the 
coast retarded Sir Henry Clinton's southern expedition till 
near the end of December, when, having received rein- 


forcements from Europe, he embarked about seven thou- CHAPTER 

sand troops, and sailed for South Carolina, under the con- XII> 

voy of Admiral Arbuthnot. 1780. 

The campaign being now at an end, the army was Army retires 
again put into winter quarters, the main body in the quarters, 
neighborhood of Morristown, strong detachments at West 
Point and other posts near the Hudson, and the cavalry 
in Connecticut. The head-quarters were at Morristown. 
The ill success of the allied arms at Savannah, and the 
indications of Sir Henry Clinton's designs against South 
Carolina, were reasons for sending more troops to General 
Lincoln's army ; and, before the middle of December, two 
of the North Carolina regiments and the whole of the 
Yirginia line marched to the south. 

The winter set in with so much severity, that the supplies for 

r 1-111 ^e arm y 

channels 01 transportation were closed, and the troops levied on the 

1 inhabitants. 

were reduced to the greatest distress for the want of 
provisions. In this extremity, it was necessary to levy 
supplies upon the inhabitants, and send out officers to 
collect them. By their instructions, these officers were 
first to call on the magistrates, and solicit their aid in 
procuring provisions of grain and cattle, and in apportion 
ing to each person such a quantity as he could spare 
without injury to his family. Certificates were then to be 
given, specifying the quantity, leaving it optional with 
the owner to fix the price by a fair valuation on the spot, 
or to receive the market price at the time the certificates 
should be paid. If this plan proved unsuccessful, the 
officers were to proceed according to the usual method of 
military impressments. There was no occasion, however, 
for this latter measure. By the zeal and activity of the 
magistrates, cooperating with the good disposition of the 
inhabitants, a sufficient quantity of voluntary supplies was 
soon brought to the camp. 

A descent upon Staten Island by a party under Lord Descent 
Stirling, a retaliatory incursion of the enemy into New 
Jersey at Elizabethtown, and a skirmish near White 
Plains, were the only military events during the winter. 
39 E2* 



. 48. 


strength of 
the army. 

tion of the 

System of 

specific sup 
plies ineffec 

The arrny for the campaign in 1780 was nominally fix 
ed by Congress at thirty-five thousand two hundred and 
eleven men. Each State was required to furnish its quota 
by the first day of April. No definite plan was adopted 
for the campaign, as the operations must depend on circum 
stances and the strength and condition of the enemy. 

One of the greatest evils, which now afflicted the coun 
try, and which threatened the most alarming consequen 
ces, was the depreciation of the currency. Destitute of 
pecuniary resources, and without the power of imposing 
direct taxes, Congress had, early in the war, resorted to 
the expedient of paper money. For a time, while the 
quantity was comparatively small, its credit was good ; but 
in March, 1780, the enormous amount of two hundred 
millions of dollars had been issued, no part of which had 
been redeemed. At this time forty paper dollars were 
worth only one in specie. Prices rose as the money sank 
in value, and every branch of trade was unsettled and 
deranged. The effect was peculiarly oppressive on the 
troops, and was a principal reason for the exorbitant 
bounties allowed to them in the latter years of the war. 
The separate States likewise issued paper money, which 
increased the evil, without affording any adequate relief. 
The only remedy was taxation ; but this was seldom pur 
sued with vigor, owing, in part, to the distracted state 
of the times and the exhausted condition of the country, 
and in part also to State jealousy. As each State felt 
its burdens to be heavy, it was cautious how it added 
to them in a greater proportion than its neighbors j and 
thus all were reluctant to act, till impelled by the pressure 
of necessity. 

So low had the credit of the currency fallen, that the 
commissaries found it extremely difficult, and in some ca 
ses impossible to purchase supplies for the army. Congress 
adopted a new method, by requiring each State to furnish 
a certain quantity of beef, pork, flour, corn, forage, and 
other articles, which were to be deposited in such places 
as the Commander-in-chief should determine. The States 

jE T . 48.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 307 

were to be credited for the amount at a fixed valuation CHAPTER 
in specie. The system turned out to be impracticable. X1L 
The multitude of hands into which the business was 1780 
thrown, the want of proper authority to compel its 
prompt execution, the distance of several of the States 
from the army, and the consequent difficulties of transpor 
tation, all conspired to make it the most expensive, the 
most uncertain, and the least effectual method that could 
be devised. It added greatly to the embarrassments of 
the military affairs, and to the labor and perplexities of 
the Commander-in-chief, till it was abandoned. 

To keep up the credit of the currency, Congress recom- Paper mo- 

, , . ney made a 

mended to the States to pass laws making paper money legal tender. 
a legal tender at its nominal value for the discharge of 
debts, which had been contracted to be paid in gold or 
silver. Such laws were enacted, and many debtors took 
advantage of them. When the army was at Morristown, 
a man of respectable standing lived in the neighborhood, 
who was assiduous in his civilities to Washington, which 
were kindly received and reciprocated. Unluckily this 
man paid his debts in the depreciated currency. Some 
time afterwards he called at head-quarters, and was intro 
duced as usual to the General's apartment, where he was 
then conversing with some of his officers. He bestowed 
very little attention upon the visiter. The same thing 
occurred a second time, when he was more reserved 
than before. This was so different from his customary 
manner, that Lafayette, who was present on both occa 
sions, could not help remarking it, and he said, after the 
man was gone ; " General, this man seems to be much 
devoted to you, and yet you have scarcely noticed him." 
Washington replied, smiling ; " I know I have not been 
cordial ; I tried hard to be civil, and attempted to speak 
to him two or three times, but that Continental money 
stopped my mouth." He considered these laws unjust in 
principle, and iniquitous in their effects. He was himself 
a loser to a considerable amount by their operation. 
At the beginning of April, when the States were to 



\JEr. 48 



of Congress 
attend the 


Lafayette ar 
rives with 
that naval 
and land 
forces were 
coming from 

have completed their quotas of troops, the whole number 
under Washington's immediate command was no more 
than ten thousand four hundred rank and file. This num 
ber was soon diminished by sending the remainder of 
the Maryland line and the Delaware regiment to the 
southern army. The British force at New York amount 
ed to seventeen thousand three hundred effective men. 
From that time the army of the north consisted of such 
troops only, as were raised in the New England States, 
New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To hasten 
and give effect to the arrangements for the campaign, and 
draw more expeditiously from the States their quotas of 
soldiers and supplies, General Washington requested a com 
mittee of Congress to attend the army, with power to 
act in the name of that body for definite objects. The 
committee remained in camp between two and three 
months. General Schuyler, then a member of Congress, 
was one of the committee, and his experience, sound judg 
ment, and energetic character, enabled him to render es 
sential services in that capacity. 

Before the end of April, the Marquis de Lafayette arriv 
ed at Boston from France, with the cheering intelligence 
that the French government had fitted out an armament 
of naval and land forces, which might soon be expected 
in the United States. He proceeded immediately to 
Washington's head-quarters, and thence to Congress. Al 
though many of the Americans had hoped that their 
arms would be strengthened by the troops of their allies, 
yet no indications had hitherto been given, which encour 
aged them to believe that any aid of this sort would 
be rendered. The experiment was also thought by some 
to be hazardous. The prejudice against French soldiers, 
which had been implanted and nurtured by the colonial 
wars, it was feared might lead to serious consequences, 
if French troops should be landed in the United States, 
and brought to act in concert with the American army. 
So strongly was Count de Vergennes influenced "by this 
apprehension, that he opposed the sending of troops to 


America, and advised that the efforts of France in sue- CHAPTER 
coring her ally should be expended in naval equipments, 
which he believed would be more effectual in annoy- 
ing and weakening the common enemy. In this opinion, 
however, the other members of the cabinet did not con 
cur, and it was resolved to send out a fleet with a body 
of troops to operate on land. Lafayette was principally 
instrumental in effecting this decision. It was a point 
upon which he had set his heart before he left Ameri 
ca, and it may be presumed that he previously ascertain 
ed the sentiments of Washington. At any rate, his ob 
servation while in the country had convinced him, that 
French troops would be well received ; and he had the 
address to bring the majority of the ministry to the same 
way of thinking.* 

In the month of June, General Knyphausen crossed Action at 
over with such a force as he could spare from New York, m p New jer 
and made an incursion into New Jersey. He was met 
by detachments from the American army, and some smart 
skirmishing ensued, particularly at Springfield, where the 
encounter lasted several hours. The enemy were driven 
back, and they retired to Staten Island. 

The object of this adventure could not easily be as- British gen- 
certained. General Washington at first supposed it to be 

a feint to amuse him in that quarter, while a more for- 

* Not content with soliciting for a detachment of French troops to 
act in America, Lafayette requested large supplies of clothing, guns, 
and ammunition for the American army itself ; and they were prom 
ised, although by some bad management afterwards they were not 
sent, or at least only in part. Such was the importunity of Lafayette, 
and the disinterested enthusiasm with which he represented the wants 
and claims of his republican friends, that the old Count de Maurepas, 
who was then prime minister, said one day in the Council, "It is for 
tunate for the King, that Lafayette does not take it into his head to 
strip Versailles of its furniture, to send to his dear Americans ; as his 
Majesty would be unable to refuse it" In addition to his requests 
from the government, he purchased on his own account and brought to 
America a quantity of swords and military equipage, which he present 
ed to the officers of the Light Infantry, whom he commanded during 
the campaign. 



[JET. 48. 


French fleet 
arrives at 

July 10. 

from the 
French min 
istry to 
Count Ro- 

midable force should be suddenly pushed up the Hudson 
to attack the posts in the Highlands. This opinion was 
countenanced by the arrival, just at that time, of Sir 
Henry Clinton from his successful expedition against 
Charleston. No such attempt being made, however, the 
only effect was to draw General Washington's army near 
er the Hudson, where he took a position in which he 
could act in defence of New Jersey or the Highlands, as 
occasion might require. 

News at length came, that the French fleet had entered 
the harbor of Newport, in Rhode Island, on the 10th of 
July. The armament consisted of seven or eight ships 
of the line, two frigates, two bombs, and upwards of five 
thousand troops. The fleet was commanded by the 
Chevalier de Ternay, and the army by the Count de 
Rochambeau. This was called the first division. Anoth 
er, being detained for the want of transports, was left 
at Brest almost ready to sail, which it was said would 
soon follow. 

The instructions from the ministry to Count de Ro 
chambeau were extremely judicious, and contrived in every 
part to secure harmony between the American and French 
armies. The general and the troops were to be in all 
cases under the command of General Washington. When 
the two armies were united, the French troops were to 
be considered as auxiliaries, and to yield precedence by 
taking the left. American officers were to command 
French officers of equal rank, and holding commissions 
of the same dates; and, in all military acts and capitula 
tions, the American generals were to be named first and 
to sign first. These instructions, expressed in clear and 
positive terms, were made known to General Washington 
by Lafayette before the troops landed. A copy in detail 
was likewise sent to him by Count de Rochambeau. 
They produced all the happy effects, which could have 
been anticipated. Perfect harmony subsisted not only 
between the armies, but between the people and the 
French troops, from their first arrival in the country till 

.Ex. 48.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 311 

their final departure. The Continental officers, by the CHAPTER 
recommendation of General Washington, wore cockades XIL 
of black and white intermixed, as a compliment to the 1780. 
French troops, and a symbol of friendship ; the former v 
color being that of the American cockade, and the latter 
that of the French. 

A plan of combined operations against the enemy in Pianofcom- 
New York was drawn up by General Washington, and J^^-J 
forwarded to Count de Rochambeau by the hands of American 

J and French 

Lafayette, who went to Newport for the purpose of mak- armies. 
ing explanations, and concerting arrangements with the 
French general and admiral. This plan had for its ba 
sis the naval superiority of the French over the English, 
by which the fleet of the latter might be attacked to ad 
vantage, or at least blocked up in the harbor of New 
York. At the present time, however, this was not the 
case. The arrival of Admiral Graves, with six ships of 
the line, had increased the British naval force considera 
bly beyond that of the Chevalier de Ternay ; and it was 
agreed that nothing could be done, till he should be rein 
forced by the second division from France, or by the 
squadron of the Count de Guichen, which was expected 
from the West Indies. 

Forewarned by the British ministry of the destination British gen 
of the French armament, Sir Henry Clinton made sea- 

the French 

sonable preparations to meet it, and requested Admiral at Newport. 

Arbuthnot to be ready with his fleet. After considerable 

delay he embarked six thousand troops at Frog's Neck, 

intending to proceed through the Sound and cooperate 

with the fleet in an attack on the French at Newport. 

In the mean time Count de Rochambeau, aided by Gen 

eral Heath, then present with the French army, called in 

the militia of the neighboring country, and increased the 

force at Newport so much, that Sir Henry Clinton, de 

spairing of success, landed his men at Whitestone, on 

Long Island, and returned to New York, without effect 

ing any part of his object. Another reason for his sudden 

return was, that Washington had drawn his army across 


CHAPTER the Hudson, and taken a position on the east side of that 

xn - river, from which he might attack the city during the 

1780. absence of so large a portion of the troops. It was Sir 

Henry Clinton's first hope, that, by the aid of the fleet, 

he should be able to complete his expedition against New 

port, and come back to New York before Washington 

could assume an attitude which would menace the city ; 

but in this he was disappointed. 

French Having a decided naval superiority, however, Admiral 

Arbuthnot blockaded the French squadron in the 'harbor 

of Newport, and Count de Rochambeau's army was oblig 
ed to remain there for its protection. This state of things 
continued through the season, and no military enterprise 
was undertaken. The second French division was block 
aded at Brest, and never came to America ; and the 
Count de Guichen sailed from the West t Indies to France 
without touching in any part of the United States. Both 
parties, therefore, stood on the defensive, watching each 
other's motions, and depending on the operations of the 
British and French fleets. General Washington recrossed 
the Hudson, and encamped below Orangetown, or Tappan, 
on the borders of New Jersey, which station he held till 
conference In this interval of leisure, a conference between the 


Washington commanders of the two allied armies was suggested by 
aeau. Count de Rochambeau, and readily assented to by Gen- 

Sept.2i. eral Washington. They met at Hartford in Connecticut, 
on the 21st of September. During the absence of Gen 
eral Washington, the army was left under the command 
of General Greene. The interview was more interesting 
and serviceable in cementing a personal friendship and 
promoting amicable relations between the parties, than im 
portant in establishing an ulterior system of action. Noth 
ing indeed could be positively agreed upon, since a naval 
superiority was absolutely essential to any enterprise by 
land, and this superiority did not exist. All the plans 
that were brought into view, therefore, rested on contin 
gencies, and in the end these were unfavorable to a com 
bined operation. 


At this time General Arnold held the command at West CHAPTER 
Point and other fortified posts in the Highlands. No offi- XIL 
cer in the American army had acquired higher renown 1780. 

for military talents, activity, and courage. He had sig- JJ 6 1 ** 

nalized himself at the taking of Ticonderoga, by his ex- 
pedition through the wilderness to Quebec, in a naval 
engagement on Lake Champlain, in a rencontre with the 
enemy at Danbury, and above all in the decisive action 
at Saratoga. When the British evacuated Philadelphia, 
he was appointed to the command in that city, being 
disabled by his wounds for immediate active service. 
Arrogant, fond of display, and extravagant in his style of 
living, he was soon involved in difficulties, which led to 
his ruin. His debts accumulated, and, to relieve himself 
from embarrassment and indulge his passion for parade, 
he resorted to practices discreditable to him as an officer 
and a man. Heavy charges were exhibited against him 
by the President and Council of Pennsylvania, which 
were referred to a court-martial. After a thorough inves 
tigation, the court sentenced him to receive a public rep 
rimand from the Commander-in-chief. He had previously 
presented to Congress large claims against the United 
States on account of money, which he said he had ex 
pended for the public service in Canada. These claims 
were examined, and in part disallowed. In the opinion 
of many, they were such as to authorize a suspicion of 
his integrity, if not to afford evidence of deliberate fraud. 

These censures, added to the desperate state of his Treason of 
private affairs, were more than the pride of Arnold could 
bear. At once to take revenge, and to retrieve his for 
tunes, he resolved to become a traitor to his country, 
and seek employment in the ranks of the enemy. This 
purpose was so far fixed in his mind fifteen months be 
fore its consummation, that he then began, and continued 
afterwards, a secret correspondence with Major Andre, 
adjutant-general of the British army. The more easily 
to effect his designs, he sought and obtained the com 
mand at West Point, where he arrived the first week in 
40 F2 



[JET. 48. 

J 780. 

Meeting be 
tween Ar 
nold and 

Sept. 21. 

Capture of 
Major An- 

Sept. 23. 

August. From that time it was his aim, by a plan con 
certed with the British general, to deliver West Point 
and the other posts of the Highlands into the hands of 
the enemy. 

The absence of Washington from the army, on his 
visit to Hartford, was thought to afford a fit occasion for 
bringing the affair to a crisis. The Vulture sloop of war 
ascended the Hudson, and anchored in Haverstraw Bay, 
six or seven miles below King's Ferry. It was con 
trived that a meeting should take place between Arnold 
and Andre, for the purpose of making arrangements. 
Andre went ashore from the Vulture in the night on the 
west side of the river, where Arnold was waiting to re 
ceive him. They remained together in that place till 
the dawn of day, when, their business not being finished, 
Arnold persuaded him to go to the house of Joshua H. 
Smith, at some distance from the river, where he was 
concealed during the day. Arnold left him in the morn 
ing and went to West Point. It was Andre's expecta 
tion and wish to return to the Vulture ; but, this not 
being practicable, he left Smith's house in the dusk of 
the evening on horseback, and crossed the river at King's 
Ferry with a written pass signed by Arnold, in which 
the bearer was called John Anderson. Before leaving 
Smith's house he exchanged his regimentals for a citizen's 
dress, over which he wore a dark, loose great-coat. 

The next day while riding alone towards New York, 
he was suddenly stopped in the road by three armed 
militia-men, Paul ding, Williams, and Van Wart, about half 
a mile north of Tarrytown. They searched him, and 
found papers secreted in his boots. From this discovery 
they inferred that he was a spy ; arid, taking him back 
to the nearest American outpost at North Castle, they 
delivered him over to Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, who 
was stationed there with a party of dragoons. Jameson 
examined the papers, and knew them to be in the hand 
writing of Arnold. They were of a very extraordinary 
character, containing an exact account of the state of 


things at West Point, and of the strength of the garrison, CHAPTER 
with remarks on the different works, and a report of a XIL 
council of war recently held at the head-quarters of the 1780. 
army. Jameson was amazed and bewildered. He sent a 
messenger to Arnold with a letter, stating that a prisoner, 
who called himself John Anderson, had been brought to 
him and was then in custody, and that papers had been 
found upon his person, which seemed to him of a dan 
gerous tendency. At the same time he despatched an 
express to General Washington, then supposed to be on 
the road returning from Hartford. This express was 
the bearer of the papers, which had been taken from 
Andre's boots. 

The next morning Andre was sent, under the charge 

of Major Tallmadge, to Colonel Sheldon's quarters at New General 
Salem for greater security. Being now convinced that 
there was no hope of escape, he wrote a letter to General 
Washington revealing his name and true character. Till 
this time no one about him knew who he was, or that 
he held a military rank. He submitted the letter to 
Major Tallmadge and other officers, who read it with 

Having finished his interview with the French com- Arnold es- 
manders, Washington returned from Hartford by the up- enemy. 01 
per route through Fishkill. Consequently the express, sept.25. 
who was sent with the papers, and who took the lower 
route, by which Washington had gone to Hartford, did 
not meet him, but came back to North Castle. In the 
mean time Washington pursued his journey by the way 
of Fishkill to West Point. Two or three hours before 
he reached Arnold's house, which was on the side of the 
river opposite to West Point and at a considerable dis 
tance below, the messenger arrived there with the letter 
from Jameson, by which Arnold was informed of the cap 
ture of Andre. He read it with some degree of agitation, 
and, pretending that he was suddenly called to West 
Point, mounted a horse standing at the door, rode to the 
river, entered his barge, and ordered the men to row down 



. 48. 


Andre con- 
demned as 
a spy by a 
board of 

Sept. 29. 

Andre exe 

October 2. 

British gen 
eral endeav 
ors to pro 
cure Andre's 

the stream. When the barge approached King's Ferry, 
he held up a white handkerchief, and the officer who 
commanded at Verplanck's Point, supposing it to be a flag- 
boat, allowed it to pass without inspection. Arnold pro 
ceeded directly to the Vulture, which was still at anchor 
in the river near the place where Andre had left it. 

Washington arrived at Arnold's house, and went over 
to West Point, without hearing any thing of Arnold. 
On his return, however, in the afternoon he received the 
abovementioned letter from Andre, and the papers found 
in his boots, which had been forwarded from North Cas 
tle. The plot was now unravelled. The first thing to 
be done was to secure the posts. Orders were imme 
diately despatched to all the principal officers, and every 
precaution was taken. 

Andre was first removed to West Point, and thence to 
the head-quarters of the army at Tappan. A board of 
officers was summoned, and directed to inquire into the 
case of Major Andre, report the facts, and give their opin 
ion, both in regard to the nature of his offence, and to 
the punishment that ought to be awarded. Various pa 
pers were laid before the board, and Andre himself was 
questioned, and desired to make such statements and 
explanations as he chose. After a full investigation the 
board reported, that the prisoner came on shore in the 
night, to hold a private and secret interview with General 
Arnold ; that he changed his dress within the American 
lines, and passed the guards in a disguised habit and un 
der a feigned name ; that he was taken in the same 
disguised habit, having in his possession several papers, 
which contained intelligence for the enemy ; and that he 
ought to be considered as a spy, and, according to the 
law and usage of nations, to suffer death. General Wash 
ington approved this decision ; and Major Andre was exe 
cuted at Tappan on the 2d of October. 

While Andre's case was pending, Sir Henry Clinton 
used every effort in his power to rescue him from his 
.fate. He wrote to General Washington, and endeavored 

S.T 48.] 



to show, that he could not be regarded as a spy, inasmuch CHAPTER 
as he came on shore at the request of an American gen- XIL 
eral, and afterwards acted by his direction. Connected 1780. 
with all the circumstances, this argument could have no 
weight. That he was drawn into a snare by a traitor 
did not make him the less a spy. As the guilt of Arnold 
was the cause of all the evils that followed, an exchange 
of him for Andre would have been accepted ; but no such 
proposal was intimated by the British general ; and perhaps 
it could not be done consistently with honor and the 
course already pursued. From the moment of his cap 
ture till that of his execution, the conduct of Andre was 
marked with a candor, self-possession, and dignity, which 
betokened a brave and noble spirit. There was no strong 
er trait in the character of Washington than humanity ; 
the misfortunes and sufferings of others touched him 
keenly j and his feelings were deeply moved at the part 
he was compelled to act in consenting to the death of 
Andre ; yet justice to the office he held, and to the cause 
for which his countrymen were shedding their blood, left 
him no alternative. * 

* A full and detailed account of the particulars relating to this sub 
ject is contained in SPARKS'S Life and Treason of Arnold, being the 
third volume of the Library of American Biography. 

Immediately after the capture of Andre*, rumors went abroad, that 
other officers of high rank in the American army were implicated with 
Arnold. It was proved afterwards, that these rumors were set afloat 
by the enemy, for the purpose of exciting distrust and discord in the 
American camp. Till this fact was established, however, General 
Washington felt extreme anxiety, and omitted no effort to ascertain 
the truth. Secret agents were sent into New York to make inquiries 
and procure intelligence. The intercourse was managed chiefly by 
Major Henry Lee, who was stationed with his dragoons on the lines, 
and whose ability and address, as well as his energy and promptitude, 
peculiarly qualified him for such a service. A project was likewise set 
on foot for seizing the person of Arnold. The romantic adventures of 
Sergeant Champe, while engaged in this enterprise, as related in Lee's 
Memoirs, are well known. There is an error of some importance, how 
ever, in that narrative. Its chief interest arises from the supposed cir 
cumstance, that Champe was employed to bring away Arnold for the 



[JET. 48. 



state of af 
fairs at the 


adopt Wash 
advice in 
regard to 
the army. 

While these operations were going on at the north, 
all the intelligence from the south gave evidence, that 
affairs in that quarter were assuming a gloomy aspect. 
The British forces, with Lord Cornwallis at their head, 
were overrunning the Carolinas ; and preparations were 
making in New York to detach a squadron with troops 
to fall upon Virginia'. The defeat of General Gates near 
Camden, in South Carolina, was a heavy blow upon the 
Americans, and left them in a state from which it was 
feared they would not soon recover. Congress requested 
General Washington to appoint an officer to succeed 
Gates in the command of the southern army. With his 
usual determination and judgment he selected General 
Greene, who repaired to the theatre of action, in which 
he was so eminently distinguished during the subsequent 
years of the war. 

Gaining an increased confidence in the Commander-in- 
chief, which a long experience of his wisdom and disin 
terestedness authorized, Congress at length adopted the 
important measures, in regard to the army, which he had 
earnestly and repeatedly advised and enforced. They de 
creed that all the troops, thenceforward to be raised, 
should be enlisted to serve during the war ; and that all 
the officers, who continued in the service to the end of 
the war, should be entitled to half-pay for life. Wash 
ington ever believed, that, if this system had been pur 
sued from the beginning, it would have shortened the 
war, or at least have caused a great diminution in the ex 
pense. Unfortunately the States did not comply with the 
former part of the requisition, but adhered to the old 
method of filling up their quotas with men raised for three 

purpose of saving Andre ; whereas Champe did not go into New York 
till eighteen days after Andrews execution. Lee's narrative was written 
many years after the events, and, from the confusion of dates into 
which he has fallen, it seems probable that his memory failed him, and 
that he ascribed the adventures of two individuals to Sergeant Champe. 
See Writings of Washington, Vol. VII. p. 548 ; and Life and Trea 
son of Arnold, p. 267. 


years and for shorter terms. , The extreme difficulty of CHAPTER 
procuring recruits was the reason assigned for persevering XIL 
in this practice. 1780. 

Lafayette commanded six battalions of light infantry, nan for at- 

' . TT & . . 3 ' tacking the 

stationed in advance of the main army. He projected a enemy, 
descent upon Staten Island, but was prevented from exe- November, 
cuting it by the want of boats. A plan was likewise 
formed for a general attack on the north part of New 
York Island. The enemy's posts were reconnoitred, ex 
tensive preparations were made, and a large foraging party 
was sent into Westchester County to mask the design, 
and draw the attention of the enemy that way. But the 
sudden appearance of several armed vessels in the river 
caused the enterprise to be deferred and finally abandoned. 
The foraging expedition, conducted by General Stark, was 

The army went into winter quarters at the end of No- Army goes 
vember ; the Pennsylvania line near Morristown, the New quarter*. 
Jersey regiments at Pompton, and the eastern troops in 
the Highlands. The head-quarters of the Commander-in- 
chief were at New Windsor. The French army remained 
at Newport, except the Duke de Lauzun's legion, which 
was cantoned at Lebanon in Connecticut. 



[-fix. 49. 



Mutiny of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Troops. Agency of Wash 
ington in procuring Supplies from France. Limited Powers of Con 
gress. Operations of the Enemy in the Chesapeake. Detachment to 
Virginia under Lafayette. General Washington visits Count de Ro- 
chambeau at Newport. Condition of the Army. Interview between 
the American and French Commanders at Weathersfield. Plan of 
Operations. A Combined Attack on New York proposed. Junction 
between the American and French Armies. Intelligence from Count 
de Grasse in the West Indies changes the Objects of the Campaign. 
Successful Operations of Lafayette against Cornwallis. The combined 
Armies cross the Hudson and march to Virginia. The Fleet of Count 
de Grasse enters the Chesapeake. Siege of Yorktown. Capitulation. 
The American Army returns to Hudson's River ; the French remains 
in Virginia. 

THE year 1781 opened with an event, which filled the 
country with alarm, and threatened dangerous consequen 
ces. On the 1st of January a mutiny broke out among 

Mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops, stationed near Mornstown, and 

the Perm- * 



January 1. 

about thirteen hundred men paraded under arms, refused 
obedience to their officers, killed one captain, mortally 
wounded another, and committed various outrages. The 
mutineers marched in a body towards Princeton with six 
fieldpieces, avowing their intention to proceed to Phila 
delphia, and demand from Congress a redress of their 
grievances. They complained that their pay was in ar 
rears, that they were obliged to receive it in a depreciated 
currency, that many of the soldiers were detained beyond 
the term of their enlistment, and that they had suffered 
every hardship for the want of money, provisions, and 
clothing. By the prudence and good management of Gen 
eral Wayne, who took care to supply them with pro 
visions on their march, they were kept from plundering 
the inhabitants and other excesses. He sent the intelli 
gence of the revolt by an express to General Washing- 

fir. 49.J LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 321 

ton, who, considering the number of the mutineers and CHAPTER 
the apparent justice of their complaints, recommended to xm> 
him not to use .force, which might inflame their passions, 1781. 
increase opposition, keep alive resentment, and tempt them 
to turn about and go to the enemy, who would not fail 
to hold out alluring offers. He advised General Wayne 
to draw from them a statement of their grievances, and 
promise to represent the case faithfully to Congress and 
the State of Pennsylvania, and endeavor to obtain re 

These judicious counsels had the effect desired. A Mutiny sup- 
committee of Congress, joined by the President of Penn 
sylvania, met the revolters at Trenton, and made propo 
sals to them, which were accepted, and they gave up 
their arms. An ambiguity in the written terms of enlist 
ment was one of the principal causes of dissatisfaction. 
The agreement on the part of the soldiers was, to serve 
for three years or during the war. By the interpretation, 
which the officers gave to these expressions, they bound 
the soldiers to serve to the end of the war ; whereas the 
soldiers insisted that they engaged for three years only, 
or during the war if it should come to an end before the 
three years had elapsed. Accordingly they demanded a 
discharge at the expiration of that period. This con 
struction being allowed, it was the means of disbanding 
a large part of the Pennsylvania line for the winter, but 
it was recruited again in the spring to its original com 
plement. The revolters were indignant at the suspicion 
of their going to the enemy, and scorned the idea, as 
they expressed it, of turning Arnolds. Two emissaries 
sent among them with overtures from Sir Henry Clinton 
were given up, tried by a court-martial, and executed. 

Not knowing how far this example might infect the Mutiny of 
troops generally, the sufferings of all of whom were not Je?sy ew 
less than those of the Pennsylvania line, General Wash 
ington took speedy measures to prevent the repetition of 
such a scene as had just occurred. He ordered a thou 
sand trusty men to be selected from the regiments in the 



. 49. 


ton's aid in 
money and 
from France. 

January 15. 

Highlands, and held in readiness to march, with four 
days' provisions, at the shortest notice. The wisdom of 
this precaution was soon put to the proof; for news came, 
that the New Jersey troops, stationed at Pompton and 
Chatham, were in a state of mutiny, having risen in 
arms against their officers, and threatened to march to 
Trenton, where the legislature of the State was then in 
session, and demand redress at the point of the bayonet. 
The case required promptness and energy. Six hundred 
men were put under the command of General Howe, with 
orders to march and crush the revolt by force, unless the 
men should yield unconditional submission and return to 
their duty. These orders were faithfully executed. Taken 
by surprise, the mutineers were compelled to parade 
without their arms, make concessions to their officers, and 
promise obedience. To impress them with the enormity 
of their guilt, and deter them and others from future acts 
of the kind, two of the ringleaders were tried by a field 
court-martial and shot. By this summary proceeding the 
spirit of mutiny in the army was subdued. 

In the midst of these distracting events Washington 
was employed, at the request of Congress, in affording 
important counsels to Colonel John Laurens, who had 
been appointed on a mission to France, for the purpose 
of obtaining a loan and military supplies. Such was the 
deranged state of the currency, so low had the resources 
of the country been drained, and so feeble was the power 
of drawing them out, that, in the opinion of all, the 
military efforts of the United States could not be exerted 
with a vigor suited to the exigency of the occasion, nor 
even with any thing more than a languishing inactivity, 
unless sustained by succors from their allies both in 
money and supplies for the army. The sentiments of 
Washington, communicating the fruits of his knowledge, 
experience, and judgment, with the weight of his name, 
were thought essential to produce a just impression on 
the French cabinet. He wrote a letter to Colonel Lau 
rens, remarkable for its appropriateness and ability, con- 

&T. 49.] 




taining a clear and forcible representation of facts, with CHAPTER 
arguments in support of the application of Congress, which 
was first presented by that commissioner to Dr. Franklin, 
and afterwards laid before the ministry and the King. 
The influence of this letter, in procuring the aids solicit 
ed from the French government, may be inferred from 
the circumstance of -a recent loan being accompanied 
with the suggestion, that the money to be appropriated 
for the army should be left at the disposal of General 

In a letter to Lafayette, dated at Versailles, March 10th, 1781, 
Count de Vergennes wrote as follows. "The King has just deter 
mined on the succors of different kinds, with which the Americana 
are to be furnished for the ensuing campaign. I shall not give you 
a detailed account of them, as I am transmitting one to the Chev 
alier de la Luzerne, who, I have no doubt, will communicate it to 
you. I have reason to believe, that General Washington will be 
satisfied with our efforts for the support of the American cause, and 
that, on his part, he will do every thing in his power to render them 
available. I beg that you will assure him of the entire confidence, 
which we place in his zeal, patriotism, and talents, and that we shall 
sincerely rejoice when he shall have acquired the glory of having de 
livered his country and secured her liberties." 

Among the succors here mentioned for the year 1781, which were 
granted before the arrival of Colonel Laurens in France, was a sub 
sidy to the United States of six millions of livres. The French 
ministry, designing this money for a special succor to the army, 
proposed, that, after a certain portion had been paid for military 
articles purchased in Europe, the remainder should be at the dispos 
al of General Washington, and disbursed in such a manner as he 
should think best for the general good. This idea was expressed 
to Dr. Franklin, and he communicated it to Congress. The jealousy 
and fears of that body were immediately alarmed. They were not 
satisfied that the head of the army should possess such an agent, 
in addition to his military power. M. de la Luzerne was at first a 
little concerned at this uneasiness, as it was mingled with latent 
suspicions of the design of the French court, in making this dispo 
sition of the money ; but luckily he discovered in Count de Ver- 
gennes's letter to him, that General Washington, "or some other 
person," was indicated. He immediately removed the anxieties of 
Congress by communicating this fact, and informing them that the 
money was within their control. Not long afterwards he saw Gen 
eral Washington, who thanked him cordially for his interference, and 
for thus relieving him from a very responsible task, which he had no 
desire to perform, and which would excite the jealousy of his enemies. 

324 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [-Ex. 49. 

CHAPTER The existence of an army, and the prosecution of war, 

xm - depend on the power of the civil head of a nation, as 

1781. we \[ as on jt s resources. So loose were the ties by which 

Powers of the confederacy was bound together, so limited was the 

doubtful and control exercised by Congress over the States, and so little 

inefficient. J . J 

inclined were the parts to unite in a consolidated whole, 
that, from imbecility on the one hdnd and public apathy 
on the other, Washington became more and more fearful 
of the consequences. "The great business of war," said 
he, "can never be well conducted, if it can be conduct 
ed at all, while the powers of Congress are only recom 
mendatory. While one State yields obedience, and anoth 
er refuses it, while a third mutilates and adopts the 
measure in part only, and all vary in time and manner, 
it is scarcely possible that our affairs should prosper, or 
that any thing but disappointment can follow the best 
concerted plans. The willing States are almost ruined 
by their exertions ; distrust and jealousy ensue. Hence 
proceed neglect and ill-timed compliances, one State wait 
ing to see what another will do. This thwarts all our 
measures after a heavy though ineffectual expense is in 
curred." And he adds, on the point of vesting Congress 
with competent powers ; " Our independence, our respec 
tability and consequence in Europe, our greatness" as a 
nation hereafter, depend upon it. The fear of giving 
sufficient powers to Congress, for the purposes I have 
mentioned, is futile. A nominal head, which at present 
is but another name for Congress, will no longer do. 
That honorable body, after hearing the interests and 
views of the several States fairly discussed and explain 
ed by their representatives, must dictate, and not merely 
recommend and leave it to the States to do afterwards as 
they please, which, as I have observed before, is in many 
cases to do nothing at all." These sentiments he often 
repeated in letters to his friends, but more as an expres 
sion of his wishes than in the confidence of hope. The 
time for establishing a firm and united government had 
not come. Nor indeed was it to be expected that the 


States, jealous of their rights, and each possessing within CHAPTER 

itself the substance and the forms of a separate common- XIIL 

wealth, would resign without great caution these positive 1781. 
advantages for the doubtful security of a new and un 
tried system. 

It is remarkable, however, that Congress assumed and caution or 

Congress in 

exercised certain powers implying the highest prerogatives ^ r cisin e 
of sovereignty, while they neglected to use others of a powers, 
subordinate kind, which were less likely to be abused, and 
were even more necessary to move the great machine of 
government. They made war, declared independence, 
formed treaties of alliance, sent ministers to foreign courts, 
emitted a paper currency and pledged the credit of all 
the States for its redemption, and on more than one oc 
casion conferred dictatorial powers on the commander of 
their armies. These acts of supreme power they hazard 
ed without scruple or hesitation, without consulting their 
constituents or the fear of displeasing them ; but they 
ventured only to recommend to the States to raise troops, 
levy taxes, clothe and feed their naked and starving sol 
diers, and to execute the laws for the purposes of inter 
nal government j shrinking from the responsibility of en 
forcing their decrees, or even of advising compulsory 

This seeming contradiction is not inexplicable. Their 
course was prudent, perhaps necessary. The first series 
of acts here enumerated did not bear immediately upon 
the people. Alliances might be entered into, a foreign 
minister might come or go, an army might be Voted or 
the credit of the nation pledged, and no individual would 
feel any present inconvenience ; whereas, if a man was 
required to be a soldier, to pay a tax, or give up part 
of his substance, he would begin ' to think of himself, 
talk of his rights, complain of hardships, and question the 
authority that demanded obedience. The difficulty of ex 
acting such obedience by force, and the danger of the 
attempt, are equally obvious. 

The British general seems not to have meditated any 





British gen 
eral sends a 
to Virginia 
under Ar- 

Part of the 
French fleet 
sails for the 


offensive operations in the northern States for the coming 
campaign. His attention was chiefly directed to the south, 
where such detachments as could be spared from his 
army at New York were to cooperate with Lord Corn- 
wallis. Sixteen hundred men, with a proportionate num 
ber of armed vessels, were sent into the Chesapeake under 
the command of Arnold, who was eager to prove his zeal 
for the cause of his new friends by the mischief he could 
do to those, whom he had deserted and sought to be 
tray. Before his arrival in the Chesapeake, General Leslie 
had left Virginia and sailed for Charleston ; so that Arnold 
received the undivided honor of his exploits, and, what 
he valued more highly, a liberal share of the booty that 
fell into his hands. He burnt Richmond, seized private 
property, and committed depredations in sundry places. 

About the middle of January the British fleet block 
ading the harbor of Newport was so much shattered and 
dispersed by a violent storm, that the scale of superiority 
turned in favor of the French squadron. The Chevalier 
de Ternay had recently died, and M. Destouches, who 
succeeded him in the command, reconnoitred the enemy's 
fleet after the storm, and, finding it well secured in Gar 
diner's Bay, at the east end of Long Island, he was not 
inclined to seek an engagement. Taking advantage of 
the opportunity, however, he detached a ship of the line 
and two frigates under M. de Tilly to the Chesapeake, 
with the design to blockade Arnold's squadron, and to 
act against him in concert with the American troops on 
land. 'As soon as General Washington heard of the dam 
age suffered by the British ships, he wrote to Count de 
Rochambeau, recommending that M. Destouches should 
proceed immediately to Virginia with his whole fleet and 
a thousand troops from the French army. This advice 
was not received till after the departure of M. de Tilly 
from Newport, when it was too late to comply with it, 
as the British fleet in the mean time had gained strength, 
and made it hazardous for M. Destouches to leave the 


M. de Tilly's expedition was only in part successful. CHAPTER 
He entered the Chesapeake, but Arnold drew his vessels XIIL 
so high up the Elizabeth River, that they could not be 1781. 
reached by the French line-of-battle ship ; and one of the French fleet 

. . .. . ai returns to 

frigates ran aground, and was set afloat again with dim- Newpon. 
culty. As M. de Tilly could not remain long in the 
Chesapeake without the hazard of being blockaded by a 
British force, he put to sea and arrived at Newport after February 24. 
an absence of fifteen days. 

Although the British had repaired their damaged vessels, Naval ac 
tion between 
yet by the junction of M. de Tilly an equality was re- the British 

J and French 

stored to the French ; and M. Destouches, in conformity fleets. 
to the recommendation of General Washington, resolved March 16 . 
on an expedition to Virginia with his whole naval force, 
to which Count de Rochambeau added eleven hundred 
troops, commanded by Baron de Viomenil. The French 
were pursued by Admiral Arbuthnot with all his blockad 
ing squadron, and overtaken near the capes of Virginia, 
where an action ensued, which terminated with nearly 
equal honor to both parties. The object of the expedi 
tion was thus defeated, unless it was a part of M. Des- 
touches's purpose to bring on a naval engagement, which 
is not improbable. The fleet returned to Newport with 
out attempting to enter the Chesapeake. 

The moment Washington received the intelligence, that Lafayette 
M. de Tilly had sailed to the southward, he detached detachment 

to Virginia. 

twelve hundred men from his army to proceed by land 
to the Chesapeake and cooperate with the French against 
Arnold. At the head of this detachment he placed the 
Marquis de Lafayette, being influenced in his choice both 
by a political motive, and by his confidence in the abil- . 
ity and bravery of that officer. The appointment was 
complimentary to the allies, and it was thought that har 
mony would be more surely preserved by a commander, 
who was beloved by the American troops, and respected 
for his rank and character by his own countrymen. La 
fayette marched from Hudson's River on the 20th of 
February. On his arrival in Virginia, his seniority of 

328 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [jE T . 49. 

CHAPTER rank would give him the command of all the Continental 
XIIL troops in that State, and of all the militia drawn into 
1781. the service to oppose the enemy in the waters of the 
Chesapeake. Hitherto Baron Steuben had conducted the 
operations against Arnold in Virginia, having been de 
tained for that purpose when on his way to join Gen 
eral Greene. 

Washington To mature the plans for the campaign, and to commu- 
chambeauat nicate with the French commanders, on points that could 
not be safely intrusted to writing, General Washington 
made a journey to Newport. He left head-quarters on 
the 2d of March, and was absent nearly three weeks. 
He arrived a day or two before M. Destouches's depar 
ture on the expedition above mentioned. The citizens of 
Newport received him with a public address, expressive 
of their attachment, their gratitude for his services, and 
the joy they felt at seeing him among them. In his re 
ply, he took care to reciprocate and confirm the sentiments, 
which they had declared in regard to the allies. " The 
conduct of the French army and fleet," said he, " of 
which the inhabitants testify so grateful and so affectionate 
a sense, at the same time that it evinces the wisdom of 
the commanders and the discipline of the troops, is a 
new proof of the magnanimity t of the nation. It is a 
further demonstration of that generous zeal and concern 
for the happiness of America, which brought them to 
our assistance, a happy presage of future harmony, a 
pleasing evidence that an intercourse between the two 
nations will more and more cement the union, by the 
solid and lasting ties of mutual affection." In short, the 
meeting between the commanders of the allied armies was 
in all respects satisfactory to both parties; but the pro 
jects of the enemy were so uncertain, and future opera 
tions depended so much on contingent and unforeseen 
events, that nothing more could be agreed upon, than 
general arrangements for acting in concert at such times 
and places as circumstances should require. 

Although the design of the British general was not 

&r. 49.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 329 

then known, it appeared afterward that he aimed to trans- CHAPTER 

fer the seat of war to the Chesapeake, and if possible to XIIL _ _ 

Pennsylvania.* This scheme was urged by Lord Corn- 1781. 
wallis, who was of the opinion that it ought to be pursued British gen- 

D r eral traua- 

even at the expense of abandoning New York. To aid 
in effecting it, Sir Henry Clinton sent another detach- 
ment to Virginia, consisting of two thousand men, under 
General Phillips, who was ordered to cooperate with Ar 
nold, and ultimately with Lord Cornwallis, it being presum 
ed that Cornwallis would make his way through North 
Carolina, and be able to succor these troops in Virginia, 
and probably to join them with his army. 

The first object of Lafayette's expedition was to act 

* The secret designs of the British commanders could not, of course, 
be understood, except as they were unfolded by events. But General 
Washington was always well informed of all the principal transactions 
within the enemy's lines, and was thereby enabled to judge very accu 
rately of the force and situation of the opposing army, and to anticipate 
any important operation that was about to be undertaken. Throughout 
the war he had spies in New York, who were unacquainted with each 
other, and whose intelligence came through different channels. By 
comparing their accounts he was commonly well informed of all the 
enemy's movements, and was able to judge with considerable accuracy 
what plans they had in contemplation. One individual was occupied in 
this way nearly the whole war. His letters were full, and the informa 
tion he communicated was usually correct. He was on terms of inti 
macy with the British officers, and frequently obtained his intelligence 
from the highest sources. His letters were sent by way of Long Is 
land, and thence across the Sound to Connecticut. At one period he 
had an agent in Bergen, through whose hands his letters passed. The 
principal officers near the lines were also intrusted with the business 
of procuring intelligence, and employed spies for that purpose, whose 
reports were transmitted to the Commander-in-chief. Various devices 
were practised for concealment. A cipher was used in part, but the 
most effectual mode was to write with an invisible ink, which could be 
made to appear only by rubbing over the surface of the paper a chem 
ical fluid, prepared in a particular manner. The spies were supplied 
with this ink and fluid. A short letter would be written on some trivial 
subject with common ink, and the remainder of the sheet would be 
filled with invisible characters. Fictitious names were used for the sig 
natures and superscriptions. With these precautions, the risk of detec 
tion was very small, even if the letter was intercepted. 
42 n2 

330 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [^Ex. 49. 

CHAPTER in conjunction with the French fleet ; but, as no part of 
XIIL the fleet entered the Chesapeake, he was disappointed in 
178l> that purpose. His troops advanced no farther than Anna- 
X C ene's P ons > although he went forward himself to Williamsburg. 
expedition. Having ascertained that an English squadron had entered 
the Chesapeake, instead of the French, he immediately 
prepared to return with his detachment to <the main army 
near the Hudson. He proceeded by water to the Head 
Apni a. of Elk, where he received additional instructions from 
General Washington, directing him to march to the south, 
and either meet the enemy in Virginia, or continue on 
ward to the southern army, as should be advised by 
General Greene. 

sentiments The enemy ascended the Chesapeake Bay and its prin- 
ton respect- c ipal rivers, with their small armed vessels, plundering 
duct of his a nd laying waste the property of the inhabitants. One of 
whe th e , n - these vessels came up the Potomac to Mount Vernon ; and 

emy landed 

tne mana g er of the estate, with the hope of saving the 
houses from being pillaged and burnt, yielded to the de 
mands of the officers in a manner, which excited the 
regret and displeasure of Washington. In reply to his 
manager, who had informed him of the particulars, he 
said ; " I am very sorry to hear of your loss j I am a 
little, sorry to hear of my own ; but that which gives me 
most concern is, that you should go on board the enemy's 
vessels, and furnish them with refreshments. It would 
have been a less painful circumstance to me to have 
heard, that, in consequence of your non-compliance with 
their request, they had burned my house and laid the 
plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered your 
self as my representative, and should have reflected on 
the bad example of communicating with the enemy, and 
making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them with a 
view to prevent a conflagration. It was not in your pow 
er, I acknowledge, to prevent them from sending a flag 
on shore, and you did right to meet it ; but you should, 
in the same instant that the business of it was unfolded, 
have declared explicitly, that it was improper for you to 

^E-r. 49.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 331 

yield to the request ; after which, if they had proceeded CHAPTER 
to help themselves by force, you could but have submit- XI11> 
ted ; and, being unprovided for defence, this was to be 1 7 8 1 - 
preferred to a feeble opposition, which only serves as a 
pretext to burn and destroy." The reader need not be 
reminded of the accordance of these sentiments with the 
noble disinterestedness, which regulated his conduct through 
the whole of his public life. 

An extract from his diary, written on the 1st of May, 
will exhibit in a striking manner the condition of the ar 
my at that time, and the prospects of the campaign. 

" To have a clearer understanding of the entries, which condition of 
may follow, it would be proper to recite in detail our 
wants and our prospects ; but this alone would be a work 
of much time and great magnitude. It may suffice to 
give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words. 
Instead of having magazines filled with provisions, we 
have a scanty pittance scattered here and there in the 
different States ; instead of having our arsenals well sup 
plied with military stores, they are poorly provided and 
the workmen all leaving them ; instead of having the 
various articles of field-equipage in readiness to be deliv 
ered, the quartermaster-general, as the dernier resort, accord 
ing to his account, is but now applying to the several 
States to provide these things for their troops respectively ; 
instead of having a regular system of transportation es 
tablished upon credit, or funds in the quartermaster's hands 
to defray the contingent expenses of it, we have neither 
the one nor the other, and all that business, or a great 
part of it, being done by military impress, we are daily 
and hourly oppressing the people, souring their tempers, 
and alienating their affections ; instead of having the regi 
ments completed to the new establishment, which ought 
to have been done agreeably to the requisitions of Con 
gress, scarce any State in the Union has at this hour an 
eighth part of its quota in the field, and little prospect 
that I can see of ever getting more than half; in a word, 
instead of having every thing in readiness to take the field, . 






Arrival of 
Count de 


between the 
and French 
at Weath 
ers field. 

May 22. 

Objects of 
the confer 

we have nothing ; and, instead of having the prospect of 
a glorious offensive campaign before us, we have a bewil 
dered and gloomy defensive one, unless we should receive 
a powerful aid of ships, land troops, and money from our 
generous allies, and these at present are too contingent 
to build upon." 

Happily the train of affairs took a more favorable turn 
than he anticipated. In a short time he received the 
cheering intelligence, that Count de Barras had arrived 
in Boston harbor with a French frigate, that other vessels 
and, a reinforcement of troops from France might soon be 
looked for, and that a fleet under the Count de Grasse 
would sail from the West Indies to the United States in 
July or August. Another meeting between the comman 
ders of the allied armies was thus rendered necessary. It 
took place at Weathersfield, in Connecticut, on the 22d 
of May. Count de Barras, having succeeded M. Des- 
touches in the command of the French squadron, was 
detained at Newport by the appearance of a British fleet 
off the harbor; but the Marquis de Chastellux, a major- 
general in the army, accompanied Count de Rochambeau. 
On the part of the Americans were the Commander-in- 
chief, General Knox, and General Duportail. 

The two principal objects brought under consideration 
were ; first, a southern expedition to act against the ene 
my in Virginia ; secondly, a combined attack on New 
York. The French commander leaned to the former ; 
but he yielded to the stronger reasons for the latter, which 
was decidedly preferred by General Washington. A move 
ment to the south must be wholly by land, the French 
fleet being inferior to that of Admiral Arbuthnot, by 
which it was blockaded, and of course not in a condi 
tion to go to sea. The difficulty and expense of transpor 
tation, the season of the year in which the troops would 
reach Virginia, being the hottest part of summer, and the 
waste of men always attending a long march, were for 
midable objections to the first plan. It was believed, 
also, that the enemy's force in New York had been so 


much weakened by detachments, that Sir Henry Clinton CHAPTER 

would be compelled either to sacrifice that place and its xm ' 

dependencies, or recall part of his troops from the south 1781. 
to defend them. 

It was therefore agreed, that Count de Rochambeau circular let- 
should march as soon as possible from Newport, and form governors of 

the eastern 

a junction with the American army near Hudson's River, states. 
Before leaving Weathersfield, a circular letter was written May 24. 
by General Washington to the governors of the eastern 
States, acquainting them with the result of the confer 
ence, and urging them to fill up their quotas of Conti 
nental troops with all possible despatch, and to hold a 
certain number of militia in readiness to march at a 
week's notice. If men could not be obtained for three 
years, or during the war, he recommended that they 
should be enlisted for the campaign only, deeming the 
exigency to be of the greatest importance, both in a 
military point of view and in its political bearings ; for 
the zeal of the Americans, and their willingness to make 
sacrifices for the common cause, "would be estimated by 
the manner in which they should now second the efforts 
of their allies, and contribute to give effect to their prof 
fered services. A body of militia was likewise to be 
called to Newport, for the defence of the French fleet in 
the harbor after the departure of the troops. The two 
commanders returned to their respective armies, and pre 
pared to put their plan in execution. 

It may here be observed, that, after the treaty of alii- 
ance, the people of the United States, feeling secure of 
their independence by the powerful aid of France, be 
came more and more remiss in complying with the requi 
sitions of Congress. The eastern and middle States in 
particular, after the French troops had arrived in the 
country, and the theatre of war had been transferred by 
the enemy to the south, relapsed into a state of com 
parative inactivity and indifference ; the more observable 
on account of the contrast it presented with the ardor, 
energy, and promptitude which had previously character- 


CHAPTER ized them. To shake off this lethargy, or at least to 
X!IL counteract its influence and stimulate them to furnish the 
1781. supplies absolutely necessary for the army, Washington 
resorted to every expedient, which he thought would 
operate on their public spirit and immediate interests. 
Washing- Hence he had determined, nearly a year before this 

respecting 119 time, to give out and cause it to be believed, that New 
York was the point of attack at which he aimed with 

all the force and means that could be collected. Speak 
ing on this subject at a later date, he said, "It never 
was in contemplation to attack New York, unless the 
garrison should first have been so far disgarnished to 
carry on the southern operations, as to render our success 
in the siege of that place as infallible as any future mili 
tary event can ever be made. For, I repeat it, and dwell 
upon it again and again, some splendid advantage (whether 
upon a larger or smaller scale was almost immaterial) was 
so essentially necessary to revive the expiring hopes and 
languid exertions of the country, at the crisis in question, 
that I never would have consented to embark in any 
enterprise, wherein, from the most rational plan and ac 
curate calculations, the favorable issue should not have 
appeared as clear to my view as a ray of light. The 
failure of an attempt against the posts of the enemy 
could, in no other possible situation during the war, have 
been so fatal to our cause.' 7 The main object was to 
strengthen the army and obtain supplies. The mode of 
applying them might be regulated according to circum 

Large extent The attention of the Commander-in-chief was but 
ington's" partially taken up with the affairs under his own eye. 


He held a constant correspondence with General Greene 
and Lafayette, who kept him informed of the operations 
at the south, and asked his advice and direction on points 
of difficulty and importance. The western posts beyond 
the Alleganies were also under his command, and re 
quired much of his care. Incursions of the enemy from 
Canada kept the northern frontier in a state of alarm, 


and a considerable portion of the New York troops was CHAPTER 
called away for the protection of that quarter. XIIL 

The wants of the army, especially in the article of 1781. 
bread, were at this time relieved by the generous and Robert 
spirited exertions of Robert Morris, recently appointed 
Superintendent of Finance by Congress. He procured 
from contractors two thousand barrels of flour, promising 
hard money, and pledging his own credit for its pay 
ment. The act was voluntary, and the relief seasonable. 
It was one of the many valuable services, which that 
distinguished patriot rendered to his country. 

General Washington drew the several parts of his army Junction of 

, . , , , . . . the Ameri- 

out of their quarters, and took his first position near can and 
Peekskill, but soon advanced towards New York, and mies. 
encamped on the 4th of July near Dobbs's Ferry, and jaiy e. 
about twelve miles from Kingsbridge. On the 6th he 
was joined by Count de Rochambeau with the French 
army, which had marched in four divisions from Provi 
dence by way of Hartford. The Americans encamped 
in two lines, with their right resting on the Hudson. 
The French occupied the left, in a single line extending 
to the river Brunx. 

Preparations were made for an attack on the north part 

of New York Island a short time before the junction of on New ** 
the two armies. General Lincoln descended the Hudson 
with a detachment of eight hundred men in boats for 
this purpose, landed above Haerlem River, and took pos 
session of the high ground near Kingsbridge. At the 
same time the Duke de Lauzun was to advance from 
East Chester with his legion, and fall upon Delancey's 
corps of refugees at Morrisania. Unforeseen causes pre 
vented the attack, and Lauzun did not arrive in season 
to effect his part of the enterprise. After some skirmish 
ing the enemy's outposts were withdrawn to the other 
side of Haerlem River. General Washington came forward juiy 21. 
with the main army as far as Valentine's Hill, four miles 
from Kingsbridge, to support General Lincoln in case it 
should be necessary. The troops lay upon their arms 



[JE-r. 49 

CHAPTER during the night, and the next day retired to the en- 
XI11 ' cainpment near Dobbs's Ferry. 

At this place the two armies continued six weeks. A 

Enemy's pi an o f a general attack was formed, and the two corn- 
works re- r 

manders reconnoitred the enemy's works, first by passing 

over the Hudson and viewing them across the river from 
the elevated grounds between Dobbs's Ferry and Fort 
Lee, and next at Kingsbridge arid other places in its vi 
cinity. But the recruits came in so tardily from the 
States, that the army was never in a condition to au 
thorize an undertaking of such magnitude without the 
cooperation of a French fleet superior to the British ; 
more especially as a reinforcement of about three thou 
sand Hessian recruits arrived in New York from Europe. 
A despatch had early been sent to Count de Grasse in 
the West Indies, advising him to sail directly to Sandy 
Hook, and thus secure a naval superiority. On this con 
tingency depended the execution of the plan. 

While these operations were in progress, a French 
frigate arrived at Newport with a letter from Count de 
Grasse, dated at Cape Francois in St. Domingo, stating 
that he should shortly sail from that place with his whole 
fleet and three thousand two hundred land troops for the 
Chesapeake. This letter was received by General Wash 
ington on the 14th of August. It produced an immedi 
ate change in the objects of the campaign. The engage 
ments of Count de Grasse in the West Indies were such, 
that he could not promise to remain on the coast beyond 
the middle of October. It being doubtful whether, with 
all the force that could be collected, and with the fairest 
prospect of ultimate success, the siege of New York could 
Agreed that be brought to an issue by that time, it was resolved at 
ed e armTe S m ~ once to abandon that project, and proceed to Virginia 
with the whole of the French troops, and such a part of 
the American army as could be spared from the defence 
of the posts on Hudson's River and in the Highlands. 
In this decision Count de Rochambeau cordially united, 
and the march to the south began without delay. 

Count de 

march to 


Cornwallis had advanced from North Carolina, formed CHAPTER 
a junction with the British detachment in the Chesa- XIIL 
peake, and overrun the lower counties of Virginia; but 1781 - 

he was checked by the active exertions and skilful man- success of 

' Lafayette iu 

oeuvres of Lafayette, whose generalship and prudent con- Virginia, 
duct merited the greatest applause. This was peculiarly 
gratifying to Washington, who, in case of failure, might 
have been censured for intrusting to so young an officer 
the hazardous experiment of encountering one of the most 
experienced and accomplished generals of the age. " Be 
assured, my dear Marquis," said Washington in writing juiy an 
to him, " your conduct meets my warmest approbation, as 
it must that of everybody. Should it ever be said, that 
my attachment to you betrayed me into partiality, you 
have only to appeal to facts to refute any such charge." 
Count de Vergennes bore similar testimony. In a letter 
to Lafayette he said ; " I have followed you step by step 
through your whole campaign in Virginia, and should of 
ten have trembled for you, if I had not been confident 
in your 1 wisdom. It requires no common ability and skill 
to enable a man to sustain himself as you have done, 
and during so long a time, before such a general as Lord 
Cornwallis, who is lauded for his talents in war ; and this 
too, with such a great disproportion in your forces." The 
minister of war was also commanded by the King to ex 
press the royal approbation in the warmest terms, and to 
assure Lafayette of his being raised to the rank of field- 
marshal in the French army, when his services should 
be no longer required in the United States.* 

It was the first object of Washington and Rochambeau 

* An incident at the beginning of the campaign, alike honorable to 
the character of Lafayette and expressive of his disinterested zeal, 
should not be overlooked in this place, nor ever be forgotten, by an 
American. When his detachment arrived at Baltimore, on its march 
from the Head of Elk to the south, the men were suffering for the 
want of suitable clothes. The military chest was exhausted. He pro 
cured from the merchants in Baltimore, on his personal credit, a suf 
ficient quantity of cloth to supply the want, and enable the soldiers 
43 i2 




CHAPTER to act against Cornwallis in Virginia. Should that gen- 

X1IL eral retreat to North Carolina, it was then intended to 

1781. pursue him with a part of the combined army, and to 

The two ar- embark the remainder on board the French fleet, and pro- 
. ceed with it to Charleston, which was at that time held 
by the British. The two armies crossed the Hudson at 
King's Ferry, and marched by different routes to Tren 
ton, and thence through Philadelphia to the Head of Elk. 
The stores and baggage, with one regiment, passed down 
the Delaware by water to Christiana Creek. Sir Henry 
Clinton was of course ignorant of the expected approach 
of Count de Grasse to the Chesapeake, and much finesse 
was used to misguide and bewilder him in regard to the 
design of these movements ; it being apprehended, that, 
suspecting the real object, he might send reinforcements 
to Virginia before the arrival of the French fleet. Accord 
ingly fictitious letters were written and put in the way 

to pursue their march. On this subject he wrote to Washington as 
follows. w The merchants of Baltimore have lent me a sum of about 
two thousand pounds, which will procure some shirts, linen over-alls, 
shoes, and a few hats. The ladies will make up the shirts, and the 
over-alls will be made by the detachment, so that our soldiers have a 
chance of being a little more comfortable. The money is lent upon 
my credit, and I become security for the payment in two years' time, 
when, by the French laws, I may better dispose of my estate. But 
before that time I am to use my influence with the French court, in 
order to have as soon as possible this sum of money added to any 
loan Congress will have been able to obtain from them." Alluding to 
this generous act, Washington said, in a letter to him ; 

"The measures you had taken to obtain, on your own credit, a 
supply of clothing and necessaries for the detachment, must entitle 
you to all their gratitude and affection ; and will, at the same time 
that it endears your name, if possible, still more to this country, be 
an everlasting monument of your ardent zeal and attachment to its 
cause, and the establishment of its independence. For my own part, 
my dear Marquis, although I stood in need of no new proofs of your 
exertions and sacrifices in the cause of America, I will confess to you, 
that I shall not be able to express the pleasing sensations I have ex 
perienced at your unparalleled and repeated instances of generosity 
and zeal for the service on every occasion. Suffer me only to pursue 
you with my sincerest wishes, that your success and glory may al 
ways be equal to your merits." 


of being intercepted, and a deceptive provision of ovens, CHAPTER 
forage, and boats was made in New Jersey, by which XIIL 
the British general would be led to suppose, that an at- 1781. 
tack was intended from that quarter. These stratagems 
were successful to the extent anticipated ; and the troops 
had made considerable progress in their march, before Sir 
Henry Clinton was fully aware of their destination. 

General Heath was left in the command on Hudson's General 
River. The moving army was put under the charge of 
General Lincoln. The soldiers, being mostly from the 
eastern and middle States, marched with reluctance to the 
southward, and showed strong symptoms of discontent 
when they passed through Philadelphia. This had been 
foreseen by General Washington, and he urged the Su 
perintendent of Finance to advance to them a month's 
pay in hard money. But there was no such money in 
the treasury. Mr. Morris succeeded, however, in borrow 
ing for this purpose twenty thousand hard dollars from 
the French commander, which he promised to return 
within thirty days. 

General Washington and Count de Rochambeau pre- The two 
ceded the army ; and the former, after stopping for a short a?rTvTa" ei 
time in Philadelphia, hastened forward to Mount Vernon, bur g ! am 
which lay in his route. This casual visit was the first sept. 14. 
he had paid to his home since he left it to attend the 
second Continental Congress, a period of six years and 
five months ; so entirely had he sacrificed his time, per 
sonal interests, and local attachments to the service of 
his country. Nor did he now remain any longer than to 
await the arrival of Count de Rochambeau, whom he had 
left at Baltimore. The two generals then made all haste 
to the head-quarters of Lafayette's army near Williamsburg, 
which they reached on the 14th of September. 

In the mean time Count de Grasse, with his whole French fleet, 
fleet, consisting of twenty-six ships of the line and sev- 

eral frigates entered the Chesapeake, after a partial engage- Chesapeake. 
ment with Admiral Graves off the Capes. He had also 
been joined by the Count de Barras, with the French 


. 49. 



Sept. 17. 

takes post 
at York- 
town and 

Siege of 


squadron from Newport. Three thousand men from the 
West Indies, commanded by the Marquis de St. Simon, 
had already landed, and united with Lafayette. Trans 
ports were immediately despatched up the Chesapeake, to 
bring down the French and American troops from the 
Head of Elk and Annapolis. For the purpose of concert 
ing measures for a cooperation between the naval and land 
forces, the two commanders held a conference with Count 
de Grasse on board the Ville de Paris at Cape Henry. 

Lord Cornwallis, expecting aid from Sir Henry Clinton, 
and hoping the British force at sea would be superior to 
the French, had taken possession of Yorktown and Glou 
cester, two places separated by York River, and nearly 
opposite to each other. The main part of his army was 
at Yorktown, around which he threw up strong works 
of defence, and prepared to sustain a siege. To this ex 
tremity he was at length reduced. All the troops being 
assembled, the American and French generals marched 
from the encampment near Williamsburg, and completely 
invested Yorktown on the 30th of September. The 
Americans were stationed on the right, and the French 
on the left, in a semicircular line, each wing resting on 
York River. The post at Gloucester was invested by 
Lauzun's legion, marines from the fleet, and Virginia mi 
litia, under the command of M. de Choisy, a brigadier- 
general in the French service. 

The siege was carried on by the usual process of 
opening parallels, erecting batteries, firing shot, throwing 
shells, and storming redoubts. The enemy were neither 
idle nor inefficient in their efforts for defence and an 
noyance. The principal event was the storming of two 
redoubts at the same time ; one by a party of the Amer 
ican light infantry, the other by a detachment of French 
grenadiers and chasseurs ; the former headed by Lafayette, 
the latter by the Baron de Viomenil. They were both 
successful. The assailants entered the redoubts with the 
bayonet, in a brave and spirited manner, under a heavy 
fire from the enemy. The advanced corps of the Amer- 


lean party was led by Colonel Hamilton, " whose well- CHAPTER 
known talents and gallantry," said Lafayette in his re- XIIIj 
port, "were most conspicuous and serviceable." Colonels 1781. 
Laurens, Gimat, and Barber were also distinguished in 
this assault. 

The besiegers pushed forward their trenches, and kept cessation of 
up an incessant fire from their batteries, till the 17th of 
October, when, about ten o'clock in the morning, the en 
emy beat a parley, and Lord Cornwallis sent out a note 
to General Washington proposing a cessation of hostilities 
for twenty-four hours, and the appointment of commis 
sioners on each side to settle the terms for surrendering 
the posts of Yorktown and Gloucester. In reply General 
Washington requested, that, as a preliminary step, his 
Lordship would communicate in writing the terms on 
which he proposed to surrender. This was complied with, 
and hostilities ceased. 

The basis of a capitulation, furnished by the British Basis of a 

, , , , . f capitulation 

general, was, that the garrisons should be prisoners of proposed by 
war, with the customary honors ; that the British and Ger- general. 
man troops should be sent to Europe, under an engage 
ment not to serve against France or America till released 
or exchanged ; that all arms and public stores should be 
given up ; that the officers and soldiers should retain their 
private property ; and that the interest of several individ 
uals in a civil capacity should be attended to. This last 
clause was designed to protect the traders and other Amer 
icans, who had joined the enemy. 

Some of these points not being admissible. General Terms pre- 

scribed by 

Washington transmitted an answer the next day, in which Washington. 
he sketched the outlines of a capitulation, and informed 
Lord Cornwallis, that he was ready to appoint commis 
sioners to digest the articles. All the troops in the gar 
risons were to be prisoners of war, and marched into 
such parts of the country as could most conveniently pro 
vide for their subsistence ; the artillery, arms, accoutrements, 
military chest, and public stores, with the shipping, boats, 
and all their furniture and apparel, were to be delivered 



r. 41). 


1781 . 

agreed to 
and signed. 

October 19. 

Traders and 
others with 
in the ene 
my's lines. 

Number of 


up; the officers retaining their side-arms, and both the 
officers and soldiers preserving their baggage and effects, 
except such property as had been taken in the country, 
which was to be reclaimed. The surrendering army was 
to receive the same honors as had been granted by the 
British to the garrison of Charleston. Upon these general 
terms a treaty was finally adjusted ; the commissioners 
being Colonel Laurens and the Viscount de Noailles on 
the part of the Americans and French, and Colonel Dun- 
das and Major Ross on that of the British. The articles 
of capitulation were signed on the 19th of October, and 
in the afternoon of that day the garrisons marched out 
and surrendered their arms. 

The traders within the enemy's lines were not regarded 
as prisoners, and they were allowed a certain time to 
dispose of their property or remove it ; but no provision 
was made for other persons in a civil capacity within 
the enemy's lines. At the request of Lord Cornwallis, 
however, the Bonetta sloop of war was left at his dispo 
sal for the purpose of sending an aid-de-camp with de 
spatches to Sir Henry Clinton ; and in this vessel, which 
was suffered to depart without examination, all persons 
of the above description took passage for New York ; 
and thus the British commander was enabled to maintain 
his good faith towards those, who had joined him in the 
country, without including them in the terms of capitu 
lation. The Bonetta, with her crew, guns, and stores, 
was to return and be given up. 

The whole number of prisoners, exclusive of seamen, 
was somewhat over seven thousand men ; and the British 
loss during the siege was between five and six hundred. 
The combined army employed in the siege consisted of 
about seven thousand American regular troops, upwards 
of five thousand French, and four thousand militia. The 
loss in killed and wounded was about three hundred. 
The land forces surrendered to General Washington, and 
became prisoners to Congress ; but the seamen, ships, and 
naval equipments, were assigned to the French admiral. 


The success was more complete, and more speedily CHAPTER 
attained, than had been anticipated. The capture of 

Cornwallis, with so large a part of the British army in 1781. 

America, occasioned great rejoicings throughout the coun- congress 

try. as affording a decisive presage of the favorable ter- ofuiLSto 

the officers 

mination of the war. Congress passed a special vote of and troops, 
thanks to each of the commanders, and to the officers 
and troops. Two stands of colors, taken from the enemy 
at the capitulation, were given to General Washington, 
and two pieces of field-ordnance to Count de Rocham- 
beau and Count de Grasse respectively, as tokens of the 
national gratitude for their services. Congress moreover 
resolved to commemorate so glorious an event by causing 
a marble column to be erected at York town, adorned with 
emblems of the alliance between France and the United 
States, and an inscription containing a narrative of the 
principal incidents of the siege and surrender. 

General Washington, believing a most favorable op- Washington 
port unity now presented itself for following up this sue- elJEon" 
cess by an expedition against Charleston, wrote a letter Charleston 
to Count de Grasse the day after the capitulation, request 
ing him to join in it with his fleet. He also went on 
board the admiral's ship, as well to pay his respects 
and offer his thanks for what had already been done, as 
to explain and enforce the practicability and importance 
of this plan. By the instructions from his court, and by 
his engagements to the Spaniards, Count de Grasse was 
bound to return to the West Indies without delay, and 
thus it was not in his power to accede to the proposal. 
It was then suggested, that he should transport a body 
of troops to Wilmington, in North Carolina, and land them 
there while on his voyage. To this he at first made no 
objection ; but, when he ascertained that there would be 
a difficulty in landing the men without running the risk 
of dividing his fleet, or perhaps of being driven off the 
coast with the troops on board, he declined the under 
taking. Lafayette was to command this expedition ; and 
the purpose of it was to take a British post at Wilming- 


CHAPTER ton, and then march into the interior and unite with the 
XIIT> southern army under General Greene. 

1781. The troops commanded by the Marquis de St. Simon 

Marquis de were embarked, and Count de Grasse set sail for the 

West Indies. Before his departure, General Washington 

presented him with two beautiful horses, as a testimony 

of personal consideration and esteem. 

Troops re- As nothing further could be effected by the allied 

tire to their D . * 

winter can- forces during the campaign, a detachment 01 two thou- 


sand -men, comprising the Continental troops from Penn 
sylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, was put under General 
St. Clair, with orders to reinforce General Greene at the 
south. The troops belonging eastward of Pennsylvania 
were transported by water to the Head of Elk, whence 
they marched to their winter cantonments in New Jersey 
and near Hudson's River. The French army remained 
in Virginia till the following summer, the head-quarters 
of Count de Rochambeau being at Williamsburg. 

prisoners. The prisoners were marched to Winchester in Virginia, 
and Fredericktown in Maryland ; and a part of them sub 
sequently to Lancaster in Pennsylvania. Lord Cornwallis, 
and the other principal officers, went by sea to New 
York on parole. 

Death ofMr. All these affairs being arranged, General Washington 
left Yorktown on the 5th of November. The same day 
he arrived at Eltham, where he was present at the death 
of Mr. Custis, the only son of Mrs. Washington. He 
stayed there a few days to mingle his grief with that of 
the afflicted widow and mother. The occasion was not 
less trying to his sympathy than to his sensibility, for 
he had watched over the childhood and youth of the de 
ceased with a paternal solicitude, and afterwards associat 
ed with him as a companion, who possessed his confi 
dence and esteem. Mr. Custis was a member of the 
Virginia legislature, and much respected for his public 
and private character. He died at the age of twenty- 
eight, leaving four infant children, the two youngest of 
whom, a son and daughter, were adopted by General 


Washington, and they resided in his family till the end CHAPTER 
of his life. XI1L 

Prom Eltham he proceeded by the way of Mount Ver- 1781. 
non to Philadelphia, receiving and answering various pub- Washington 
lie addresses while on his journey. The day after his phiSiphia. 
arrival he attended Congress, being introduced into the Nov . 27 . 
hall by two members, and greeted with a congratulatory 
address by the President. He was requested to remain 
for some time in Philadelphia, both that he might enjoy 
a respite from the fatigues of war, and that Congress 
might avail themselves of his aid, in making preparations 
for vigorous and timely efforts to draw every advantage 
from the recent triumph of the allied arms. 




. 49 


Preparations for another Campaign recommended and enforced by General 
Washington and approved by Congress. Lafayette returns to France. 
The Affair of Captain Asgill. Backwardness of the States in recruit 
ing the Army. Proposal to General Washington to assume Supreme 
Power, and his Reply. Sir Guy Carleton gives Notice, that Negotia 
tions for Peace had begun. The French Troops march from Virginia, 
join General Washington, and afterwards embark at Boston. Dissatis 
faction of the Army. The Officers send a Memorial to Congress. 
The anonymous Addresses at Newburg. Intelligence arrives, that a 
Treaty of Peace had been signed at Paris. General Washington's 
Sentiments concerning the civil Government of the Union. His Cir 
cular Letter to the States. He makes a Tour to the North. Repairs 
to Congress at the Request of that Body. His Farewell Address to 
the Army. The British evacuate New York. Washington resigns 
his Commission, and retires to private Life at Mount Vernon. 





CHAPTER FROM the state of affairs at this time, both in Europe 
XIVt and America, it was evident that the war could not be 
of much longer duration. Considering the temper hitherto 
manifested by the British cabinet, however, and the spirit 
with which a large majority of the nation had sustained 
the ministerial measures, it was generally supposed that 
another campaign would be tried. This was Washing 
ton's belief; and, in his communications to Congress and 
to persons of influence in various parts of the country, he 
urged the importance of being fully prepared. This he 
regarded as the wisest policy in any event. If the war 
continued, the preparations would be necessary ; if it 
ceased, they would have a favorable effect on the nego 
tiations for peace. 

He was apprehensive, that the people, from a mistaken 

uo"ns"Vecom- idea of the magnitude of the late success in Virginia, 
would deceive themselves with delusive hopes, and grow 
remiss in their efforts. " To prevent so great an evil," 
said he, " shall be my study and endeavor ; and I cannot 


-ffiT. 50.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 347 

but flatter myself, that the States, rather than relax in CHAPTER 
their exertions, will be stimulated to the most vigorous XIV> 
preparations for another active, glorious, and decisive cam- 1782. 
paign, which, if properly prosecuted, will, I trust, under 
the smiles of Heaven, lead us to the end of this long and 
tedious war, and set us down in the full security of the 
great object of our toils, the establishment of peace, lib 
erty, and independence. Whatever may be the policy of 
European courts during this winter, their negotiations will 
prove too precarious a dependence for us to trust to. Our 
wisdom should dictate a serious preparation for war, and, 
in that state, we shall find ourselves in a situation secure 
against every event." 

These sentiments met the full concurrence of Congress, congress 
They resolved to keep up the same military establishment requisitions 

, of troops and 

as the year before ; and to call on the States to complete supplies. 
their quotas of troops at an early day. They voted new 
requisitions of money and supplies. These resolves were 
adopted with a promptness, zeal, and unanimity, which 
had rarely been shown on former occasions. To aid in 
carrying them into effect, it was deemed advisable for 
the Commander-in-chief to write two circular letters to 
the governors of all the States. The first, relating to 
finance, was dated on the 22d of January, 1782, and 
contained arguments for raising money adequate to the 
public exigencies, particularly the payment and clothing 
of the troops. The second, dated a week later, exhibited 
the numbers and condition of the army then in tne field, 
and urged the completing of the quotas according to the 
requisition of Congress. 

" To bring the war to a speedy and happy conclusion," circular 
said he, " must be the fervent wish of every lover of his states, 
country ; and sure I am, that no means are so likely to January 22. 
effect these as vigorous preparations for another campaign. 
Whether, then, we consult our true interest, substantial 
economy, or sound policy, we shall find, that relaxation 
and languor are of all things to be avoided. Conduct of 
that kind on our part will produce fresh hopes and new 



[JET. 50. 


of vigorous 
efforts to 
recruit the 

January 31. 

for prompt 
exertions to 
prepare for 

exertions on that of the enemy ; whereby the war, which 
has already held out beyond the general expectation, may 
be protracted to such a length, that the people, groaning 
under the burden of it, and despairing of success, may 
think any change a change for the better." 

" However, at this advanced stage oT the war, it might 
seem to be an insult to the understanding to suppose a 
long train of reasoning necessary to prove, that a respect 
able force in the field is essential to the establishment 
of our liberties and independence ; yet. as I am apprehen 
sive the prosperous issue of the combined operation in 
Virginia may have (as is too common in such cases) the 
pernicious tendency of lulling the country into a lethargy 
of inactivity and security ; and, as I feel my own repu 
tation, as well as the interest, the honor, the glory, and 
happiness of my country, intimately connected with the 
event, I will ask the indulgence to speak more freely on 
those accounts, and to make some of the observations, 
which the present moment seems to suggest. 

" The broken and perplexed state of the enemy's af 
fairs, and the successes of the last campaign on our part, 
ought to be a powerful incitement to vigorous prepara 
tions for the next. Unless we strenuously exert ourselves 
to profit by these successes, we shall not only lose all the 
solid advantages that might be derived from them, but 
we shall become contemptible in our own eyes, in the 
eyes of our enemy, in the opinion of posterity, and even 
in the estimation of the whole world, which will consider 
us as a nation unworthy of prosperity, because we know 
not how to make a right use of it. 

" Although we cannot, by the best concerted plans, 
absolutely command success, although the race is not al 
ways to the swift nor the battle to the strong, yet with 
out presumptuously waiting for miracles to be wrought in 
our favor, it is our indispensable duty, with the deepest 
gratitude to Heaven for the past, and humble confidence 
in its smiles on our future operations, to make use of 
all the means in our power for our defence and security. 

JEr. 50.] L I F E O F W A S H I N G T O N. 349 

This period is particularly important, because no circum- CHAPTER 
stances since the commencement of the war have been so XIV> 
favorable to the recruiting service as the present, and 1782. 
because it is to be presumed, from the increase of popu 
lation and the brilliant prospects before us, that it is ac 
tually in our power to complete the army before the 
opening of the campaign. However flattering these pros 
pects may be, much still remains to be done, which can 
not probably be effected unless the army is recruited to 
its establishment ; and consequently the continuance or 
termination of the war seems principally to rest on the 
vigor and decision of the States in this interesting point. 
And, finally, it is our first object of policy, under every 
supposable or possible case, to have a powerful army 
early in the field ; for we must suppose the enemy are 
either disposed to prosecute the war, or to enter into a 
negotiation for peace. There is no other alternative. On 
the former supposition, a respectable army becomes neces 
sary to counteract the enemy, and to prevent the accumu 
lating expenses of a lingering war ; on the latter, nothing 
but a decidedly superior force can enable us boldly to 
claim our rights and dictate the law at the pacification. 
So that, whatever the disposition of the enemy may be, 
it is evidently our only interest and economy to act liber 
ally, and exert ourselves greatly during the present winter 
to cut off at once all the expenses of the war by putting 
a period to it. 

" And soon might that day arrive, and we might hope 
to enjoy all the blessings of peace, if we could see again 
the same animation in the cause of our country inspiring 
every breast, the same passion for freedom and military 
glory impelling our youths to the field, and the same dis 
interested patriotism pervading every rank of men, that 
was conspicuous at the commencement of this glorious 
revolution ; and I am persuaded, that only some great oc 
casion was wanting, such as the present moment exhibits, 
to rekindle the latent sparks of that patriotic fire into a 
generous flame, to rouse again the unconquerable spirit of 


CHAPTER liberty, which has sometimes seemed to slumber for a 
XIVt while, into the full vigor of action." 
1782. Such were his endeavors to stir up the principal persons 

French loan, in the several States to what he believed would be the 
last great effort for the establishment of independence 
and an honorable peace. Other methods were also used 
to provide means for prosecuting the war. Succors con 
tinued to be received from France, and, by the persever 
ing application of Franklin to the French court, a loan of 
six millions of livres, payable in monthly instalments, was 
promised for the coming year. After the capitulation at 
Yorktown, there being no prospect of further active ser- 

Lafayette vice till the next campaign, the Marquis de Lafayette 

returns to . J 

France. obtained permission from Congress to return on a visit to 
his native country. Besides passing resolves complimen 
tary to his character, zeal, and military conduct, Congress 
made him the bearer of a letter to the King of France, 
in which he was commended to the notice of his sove 
reign in very warm terms. Much reliance was placed on 
the representations he would make concerning the state 
of affairs in America, and on his influence to procure the 
desired assistance from the French government. The min 
isters from the United States in Europe were likewise 
instructed to confer with the Marquis de Lafayette, and 
avail themselves of his knowledge and counsels.* 

Affair of About the middle of April, General Washington left 

Philadelphia and joined the army, establishing his head- 
April, quarters at Newburg. He had hardly arrived in camp, 
when he heard of an occurrence, which produced much 

* Several of the French officers, belonging to Count de Rocham- 
beau's army, returned to Europe soon after the capitulation at Yorktown. 
The impressions they had received, respecting Washington, may be 
inferred from a letter which the Chevalier de la Luzerne wrote to him, 
on the 18th of April. "I cannot deny myself the pleasure," said he, 
"of informing you of the sentiments, with which the reports of the 
French officers, on their return to Versailles, inspired the court and 
nation towards your Excellency. Their testimony can add nothing to 
the universal opinion respecting the great services, which you have 
rendered to your country; but, to the esteem and admiration of the 


excitement at the time, and led to consequences of con- CHAPTER 
siderable notoriety, though in themselves of little moment. _ 3 
The particulars are these. Captain Huddy, an American 178 2. 
officer, who commanded a small body of troops in Mon- 
mouth County, New Jersey, was taken prisoner by a party 
of refugees, conveyed into New York, and put in close 
confinement. A few days afterwards he was sent out of 
the city, under the charge of Captain Lippencot, at the 
head of a number of refugees, by whom he was hanged 
on the heights near Middletown. This wanton act exas 
perated the people in the neighborhood, who knew and 
esteemed Captain Huddy. Affidavits and a statement of 
facts were forwarded to General Washington. These he 
laid before a council of officers, who gave it as their 
unanimous opinion, that the case demanded retaliation, 
that the punishment ought to be inflicted on the leader 
of the party by which the murder was committed, and 
that, if he should not be given up, an officer equal in 
rank to Captain Huddy ought to be selected by lot from 
the British prisoners. 

A representation of the facts was accordingly sent to 

Sir Henry Clinton, with a demand for the surrender of 
Lippencot. This demand not beipg complied with, an 
officer was designated for retaliation. The lot fell upon 
Captain Asgill, a young man only nineteen years old, 
who was then a prisoner at Lancaster in Pennsylvania. 
The affair was in suspense for several months. Although 
Lippencot was not delivered up, yet Sir Henry Clinton, 
and his successor Sir Guy Carleton, not only disavowed 

French, will henceforth be added a sentiment of affection and attach 
ment, which is a just return for the attentions our officers have received 
from you, and for the progress they have made in their profession by 
serving under your orders." Dr. Franklin wrote also, in a letter to 
Mr. Livingston, the secretary of foreign affairs, dated at Passy, March 
4th. " The French officers, who have returned to France this winter, 
speak of our people in the handsomest and kindest manner ; and there 
is a strong desire in many of the young noblemen to go over to fight 
for us ; there is no restraining some of them ; and several changes in 
the officers of their army have taken place in consequence." 



[JET. 50. 


Trial of 


CHAPTER the act as having been done without authority, but repro- 
Xlv ' bated it with unmeasured severity. The subject was re 
ferred by them to a court-martial, and Lippencot was tried. 
From the developements it appeared, that the guilt of the 
transaction rested mainly with the Board of Associated 
Loyalists in New York, and that Lippencot acted in con 
formity with what he believed to be the orders of the 
board. Hence he "was acquitted, as not properly answer 
able for the crime of the act. 

When these circumstances were made known, the whole 
matter was laid before Congress. Considering the ground 
taken by the British commanders in disavowing and cen 
suring the act, added to the irresponsible nature of Lip- 
pencot's conduct, General Washington inclined to release 
Captain Asgill, and was disappointed and dissatisfied at 
the delay of Congress in coming to a decision on the 
subject. Meanwhile the mother of Asgill, already borne 
down with family afflictions, which were increased by the 
impending fate of her son, wrote a pathetic letter of in 
tercession to the French ministry. This was shown to 
the King and Q,ueen ; and it wrought so much on their 
feelings, that Count de Vergennes by their direction wrote 
to General Washington, soliciting the liberation of Asgill. 
Although this communication arrived after it had been 
determined not to insist on retaliation, yet it had the effect 
to hasten the proceedings of Congress, and by their order 
Captain Asgill was set at liberty. 

Little progress was made by the States in filling up 
their quotas of troops. When General Washington arrived 
in camp, the whole number of effective men in the north 
ern army was somewhat short of ten thousand ; nor was 
it much increased afterwards. In fact, after the capitula 
tion at Yorktown, the conviction was nearly universal, 
that the war would not be pursued any further in the 
United States. The recruiting service consequently lan 
guished. Relieved from danger, and worn out with their 
long toils and sacrifices, the people were slow to perceive, 
that large preparations would be the means of procuring 





better terms of peace, and seemed contented with the pres- CHAPTER 
ent prospects. News arrived in the first part of May, XIV - 
which indicated an approaching change in the British cab- 1782. 
met, and symptoms of pacific measures. Fearful of the 
effect which this intelligence might produce, Washington 
took occasion to express his own sentiments without re 
serve in a circular letter, which he was just at that time 
despatching to the governors of the States. 

" Upon the most mature deliberation I can bestow," he Washington 

_ . , . , endeavors 

observed, "1 am obliged to declare it as my candid opm- to rouse the 

,* . . . States from 

ion, that the measures of the enemy in all their views, their apathy, 
so far as they respect America, are merely delusory (they Mays, 
having no serious intention to admit our independence 
upon its true principles), and are calculated to quiet the 
minds of their own people, and reconcile them to the con 
tinuance of the war ; while they are meant to amuse the 
country into a false idea of peace, to draw us off from 
our connexion with France, and to lull us into a state 
of security and inactivity, which having taken place, the 
ministry will be left to prosecute the war in other parts 
of the world with greater vigor and effect. Even if the 
nation and Parliament are really in earnest to obtain peace 
with America, it will undoubtedly be wisdom in us to 
meet them with great caution and circumspection, and 
by all means to keep our arms firm in our hands, and, 
instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to 
spring forward with redoubled vigor, that we may take 
the advantage of every favorable opportunity, until our 
wishes are fully obtained. No nation ever yet suffered 
in treaty by preparing, even in the moment of negotiation, 
most vigorously for the field." 

The discontents of the officers and soldiers, respecting Discontent 

. c , . , , f . . , of the troops. 

the arrearages of their pay, had for some time increased ; 
and, there being now a prospect, that the army would 
ultimately be disbanded without an adequate provision by 
Congress for meeting the claims of the troops, these dis 
contents manifested themselves in audible murmurs and 
complaints, which foreboded serious consequences. But 
45 K2* 






that a mon 
archy should 
be establish 
ed in the 

a spirit still more to be dreaded was secretly at work. In 
reflecting on the limited powers of Congress, and on the 
backwardness of the States to comply with the most es 
sential requisitions, even in support of their own interests, 
many of the officers were led to look for the cause in 
the form of government, and to distrust the stability of 
republican institutions. So far were they carried by their 
fears and speculations, that they meditated the establish 
ment of a new and more energetic system. A colonel 
in the army, of a highly respectable character, and some 
what advanced in life, was made the organ for communi 
cating their sentiments to the Commander-in-chief. In a 
letter elaborately and skilfully written, after describing the 
gloomy state of affairs, the financial difficulties, and the 
innumerable embarrassments in which the country had 
been involved during the war, on account of its defective 
political organization, the writer adds ; 

" This must have shown to all, and to military men in 
particular, the weakness of republics, and the exertions 
the army have been able to make by being under a prop 
er head. Therefore I little doubt, that, when the benefits 
of a mixed government are pointed out, and duly consid 
ered, such will be readily adopted. In this case it will, 
I believe, be uncontroverted, that the same abilities, which 
have led us through difficulties, apparently insurmountable 
by human power, to victory and glory, those qualities, that 
have merited and obtained the universal esteem and ven 
eration of an army, would be most likely to conduct and 
direct us in the smoother paths of peace. Some people 
have so connected the ideas of tyranny and monarchy, 
as to find it very difficult to separate them. It may 
therefore be requisite to give the head of such a con 
stitution, as I propose, some title apparently more moder 
ate ; but, if all other things were once adjusted, I believe 
strong arguments might be produced for admitting the 
title of KING, which I conceive would be attended with 
some material advantages." 



To this communication, as unexpected as it was ex- CHAPTER 
traordinary in its contents, Washington replied as fol 
lows. 1782. 

" Newburg, 22 May, 1782. 
" With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment. I washing- 

' ton's reply. 

have read with attention the sentiments you have sub 
mitted to my perusal. Be assured, Sir, no occurrence in 
the course of the war has given me more painful sensa 
tions, than your information of there being such ideas 
existing in the army, as you have expressed, and I must 
view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity. For 
the present, the communication of them will rest in my 
own bosom, unless some further agitation of the matter 
shall make a disclosure necessary. 

"I am much at a loss to conceive what part of my 
conduct could have given encouragement to an address, 
which to me seems big with the greatest mischiefs, that 
can befall my country. If I am not deceived in the 
knowledge of myself, you could not have found a person 
to whom your schemes are more disagreeable. At the 
same time, in justice to my own feelings, I must add, 
that no man possesses a more sincere wish to see ample 
justice done to the army than I do j and, as far as my 
powers and influence, in a constitutional way, extend, 
they shall be employed to the utmost of my abilities to N 
effect it, should there be any occasion. Let me conjure 
you, then, if you have any regard for your country, con 
cern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish 
these thoughts from your mind, and never communicate, 
as from yourself or any one else, a sentiment of the like 
nature. I am, Sir, &c. 


Such was the language of Washington, when, at the 
head of his army and at the height of his power and 
popularity, it was proposed to him to become a king. 
After this indignant reply and stern rebuke, it is not 


CHAPTER probable that any further advances were made to him on 
Xlv - the subject. 

Sir Guy Carleton arrived at New York early in May, 
sir Guy and superseded Sir Henry Clinton as commander of the 
British armies in America. His first letter to Washington 
was pacific in its tone, and showed, that at least a tem 
porary change had taken place in the sentiments of Parlia 
ment respecting the principles on which the war had 
been conducted, and the policy of continuing it. Noth 
ing of a positive nature was communicated, however, till 
the beginning of August, when Sir Guy Carleton again 
Negotiations wrote, that he was authorized to give notice, that negotia 
tions for a general peace had commenced at Paris, and 
that the independence of the United States would be con 
ceded as a preliminary step. From this time, therefore, 
preparations for war ceased, and no further acts of hostility 
were committed by either party. It not being certain, 
nevertheless, that the negotiations would actually result in 
peace,' no part of the American army was dismissed, but 
the posture of defence was maintained with the same 
caution and vigilance as before. 

Departure of The French troops had continued in Virginia since the 
troops. capitulation at Yorktown. They marched to Hudson's 
September. River, and formed a junction with the forces under Wash 
ington about the middle of September. The two armies 
had been encamped on the east side of the river near 
Verplanck's Point more than a month, when the French 
marched to Boston, where a fleet was ready to receive 
them, and sailed before the end of December, having been 
in the country two years and a half. The Baron de Viome- 
nil commanded the troops when they went on board the 
fleet at Boston. The Count de Rochambeau, accompanied 
by the Marquis de Chastellux, sailed some days later from 

* On the 15th of July a conference was held between Washington 
and Count de Rochambeau, respecting the future operations of the 
campaign. As no instructions had been received from the French 
court, it was not in the power of Count de Rochambeau to give any 


General Washington had drawn the larger part of his ' CHAPTER 
army down the river to Verplanck's Point, more as a 

mark of courtesy to the allied troops in meeting them 1782. 
there, than for any military object ; and, after their de 
parture, he returned to his former encampment at New- 
burg, where head-quarters continued till the army was 

The winter being a season of inactivity, and the pros- Dwsatisfac- 
pect of peace becoming every day less doubtful, the offi- 
cers and soldiers had leisure to reflect on their situation, 
and to look forward to the condition awaiting them at the 
end of the war. When they compared their long services 
and sufferings with the sacrifices of those, who had been 
engaged only in the pursuits of private life, and with the 
rewards hitherto received, they felt that they had claims, 
as well on the gratitude and generosity, as on the justice 
of their country. At the same time, various circumstances 
conspired to make them apprehensive, that these claims 
would neither be adequately met nor duly estimated. 
Congress had no funds; the States were extremely back 
ward in applying the only remedy by an effectual system 
of taxation ; and the resource of foreign loans was nearly 
exhausted. It was natural, that this state of things, added 
to long arrearages of pay, and accounts unsettled and 

decided information as to the time a French fleet might be expected 
on the coast from the West Indies, or its strength when arrived. He 
had reason to suppose, however, that it would come to the northward ; 
and, as the sickly season was approaching in Virginia, he had put his 
troops under marching orders about the 1st of July, and expected they 
would reach Baltimore before the end of the month. It was agreed, 
therefore, that the French army should remain a few days at Baltimore, 
till further instructions or intelligence should be received, and that, 
unless special reasons might appear to the contrary, the army should 
continue its march northwardly, and join the American forces on the 
Hudson. This plan was thought advisable, moreover, to prevent Sir 
Guy Carleton from sending detachments from New York to Jamaica, 
where they might be turned against the French in the West Indies. 
An elaborate memoir, pointing out various plans of a campaign, was 
presented by General Washington to Count de Rochambeau, who 
forwarded it to the French court. 




in the army. 

CHAPTER without any security for a future liquidation of them, 
XIV> should cause much excitement and concern. 

" To judge rightly of the motives, which produced this 
uneasy temper in the army, it will be necessary to recol- . 
l e ct that the resolution of October, 1780, granting half- 
pay for life to the officers, stood on the mere faith of a 
government possessing no funds, which would enable it 
to perform its engagements. From requisitions alone, to 
be made on sovereign states, were the supplies to be 
drawn, which should satisfy these meritorious public credi 
tors ; and the ill success attending these requisitions, while 
the dangers of war were still impending, furnished melan 
choly presages of their unproductiveness in time of peace. 
In addition to this reflection, of itself sufficient to dis 
turb the tranquillity at first occasioned by this resolution, 
there were other considerations of decisive influence. 

" The dispositions manifested by Congress were so un 
friendly to the half-pay establishment, as to extinguish 
the hope, that any funds they might acquire would be 
applied to that object. Since the passage of the resolu 
tion, the articles of confederation, which required the 
concurrence of nine States to any act appropriating public 
money, had * been adopted ; and nine States had never 
been in favor of the measure. Should the requisitions 
of Congress therefore be respected, or should permanent 
funds be granted by the States, the prevailing sentiment 
of the nation was too hostile to the compensation, which 
had been stipulated, to leave a probability that it would 
be substantially made. This was not merely the senti 
ment of the individuals then administering the govern 
ment, which might change with a change of men. It 
was known to be the sense of the States they represent 
ed ; and consequently the hope could not be indulged, 
that, on this subject, a future Congress would be more 
just, or would think more liberally. As, therefore, the 
establishment of that independence, for which they had 
fought and suffered, appeared to become more certain, as 
the end 0f their toils approached, the officers became more 


attentive to their own situation : and the inquietude of the CHAPTER 
army increased with the progress of the negotiation of XIV> 
peace"* 1782 - 

In the month of December, the officers in camp deter- office send 

a memorial 

mined to address Congress on the subject of their griev- to congress, 
ances. A memorial was accordingly drawn up, which December, 
was understood to express the sentiments of the army. 
It contained a representation of the money actually due 
to them, a proposal that the half-pay for life should be 
commuted for a specific sum, and a request that se 
curity should be given by the government for fulfilling 
its engagements. The commutation it was believed would 
be more generally acceptable to the public than half-pay 
for life, which had always been opposed by a strong party 
as favoring the idea of a pension list and a privileged 
class, and as hostile to republican institutions. Three offi 
cers were deputed as a committee to carry this memorial 
to Congress, and instructed to use their endeavors to ob 
tain for it a successful hearing. 

The dissensions, which had long existed in Congress, Proceeding 

f of Congress 

were brought to bear on this subject. Many of the mem- on the me- 

_ _ , mortal of the 

bers were disposed to do ample justice to the army, and officers. 
to all other public creditors, by assuming their claims January 25. 
as a Continental charge, and providing for the settlement 
of them by a Continental fund and securities ; while 
others, jealous of state rights and state sovereignty, dis 
approved this course, and urged the plan of referring un 
settled accounts to the respective States. Congress took 
the memorial into consideration, and passed resolves in 
definite in their character, and not such as were likely to 
answer the expectations or quiet the uneasiness of the 
army. The claims of public creditors were recognised, 
but no scheme was suggested for establishing funds, or 
giving security. On an estimate of the average ages of 
the officers, it was decided, that half-pay for life was 
equivalent to five years' whole pay ; but the requisite 

* MARSHALL'S Life of Washington, Vol. IV. p. 580. 



[>ET. 51. 



March 10. 

Meeting of 
the officers 

March 11. 

number of nine States could not be obtained in favor 
of the commutation. Apprehending a defeat, if they 
pressed the subject, and hoping that the vote would ulti 
mately be carried, the committee thought it prudent to 
delay further proceedings, and one of them returned to 
camp with a letter containing a report of what had been 

The representations -thus communicated were by no 
means satisfactory to the officers. Disappointed and irri 
tated, many of them were for resorting to measures, which 
should convince Congress, not only of the justice of their 
demands, but of their resolution to enforce them. Hence 
originated the famous Newburg Addresses. At a private 
consultation of several officers it was agreed, that a meet 
ing of the general and field officers, a commissioned offi 
cer from each company, and a delegate from the medical 
staff, ought to be called for the purpose of passing a series 
of resolutions, which should be forwarded to their com 
mittee at Congress. On the 10th of March a notification 
to this effect was circulated in camp, fixing the time and 
stating the object. The same day an anonymous ad 
dress to the army was sent out, written in a strain of 
passionate and stirring eloquence, and extremely well 
suited to excite the feelings and rouse the spirit of those 
for whom it was intended. Foreseeing the fatal con 
sequences that might result from an assembling of the 
officers under such circumstances, and at the same time 
deeply impressed with the justice of their complaints and 
the reality of their wrongs, Washington had a delicate 
task to perform ; but he executed it with his characteristic 
decision, firmness, and wisdom. He sought rather to 
guide and control the proceedings thus begun, than to 
check or discountenance them by any act of severity. 

In general orders the next morning, after censuring 
the anonymous paper and invitation as irregular and dis 
orderly, he appointed a day and hour for the meeting of 
the officers, when they might " devise what further 
measures ought to be adopted, as most rational, and best 


calculated to attain the object in view." This was fol- CHAPTER 
lowed by another anonymous address, in a tone more 
subdued than the former, but expressing similar senti- 1783. 
ments, and representing the orders as favorable to the 
purpose desired, the time of meeting only being changed. 
The Commander-in-chief, however, took care to frustrate 
the design of this interpretation by conversing individually 
with those officers in whom he had the greatest confi 
dence, setting before them in a strong light the danger 
that would attend a rash or precipitate act in such a crisis, 
inculcating moderation, and using his utmost efforts to 
appease their discontents, and persuade them to deliber 
ate without passion, and under a deep conviction that 
the vital interests of their country were involved in the 
measures they should adopt. 

When the officers were assembled at the time appoint- washing- 
ed, General Washington addressed them in very impressive to the om- 
terms, reminding them of the cause for which they had 
taken up arms, the fidelity and constancy with which 
they had hitherto devoted themselves to that cause, and 
the sacred trust which was still reposed in them as the 
defenders of their country's liberty ; appealing to the hon 
or and patriotism, by which they had so nobly and gen 
erously shown themselves to be actuated in the perils of 
the field, and amidst the unexampled sufferings of a pro 
tracted war ; and imploring them not to cast a shade over 
the glory they had acquired, nor tarnish their well-earned 
reputation, nor lessen their dignity, by an intemperate or 
indiscreet act at the moment when the great object of 
their toils was achieved, and the world was loud in its 
praise of their valor, fortitude, and success. He acknowl 
edged the equity of their claims, and the reasonableness 
of their complaints ; but he deprecated the idea, that on 
this account they should distrust the plighted faith of 
their country, or the intentions of Congress ; expressing 
his firm belief, that, before they should be disbanded, 
every thing would be adjusted to their satisfaction ; and 
pledging himself, from a sense of gratitude for their past 
46 L2 



. 51. 


of the offi 

ton's ac 
count of the 

March 19. 

services, and from the attachment he felt to an army, 
which had adhered to him in every vicissitude of fortune, 
to employ all his abilities and his best exertions to pro 
cure for them complete justice, as far as it could be 
done consistently with the great duty he owed to his 
country, and to the authority which every citizen was 
bound to respect. 

After speaking these sentiments, and others of a similar 
tendency, suited to soothe their feelings and inspire con 
fidence, he retired from the assembly. The deliberation 
of the officers was short, and their decision prompt and 
unanimous. They passed resolutions, thanking the Com 
mander-in-chief for the course he had pursued, and ex 
pressive of their unabated attachment; and also declaring 
their unshaken reliance on the good faith of Congress and 
their country, and a determination to bear with patience 
their grievances till in due time they should be redressed. 
A full account of the transactions was transmitted to 
Congress and published in their journals. 

The incidents are clearly and briefly related by General 
Washington in a letter to Governor Harrison of Virginia, 
written immediately after their occurrence. 

" You have not been unacquainted, I dare say, with 
the fears, the hopes, the apprehensions, and the expecta 
tions of the army, relative to the provision which is to 
be made for them hereafter. Although a firm reliance 
on the integrity of Congress, and a belief that the public 
would finally do justice to all its servants and give an 
indisputable security for the payment of the half-pay of 
the officers, had kept them amidst a variety of sufferings 
tolerably quiet and contented for two or three years past ; 
yet the total want of pay, the little prospect of receiving 
any from the unpromising state of the public finances, 
and the absolute aversion of the States to establish any 
Continental funds for the payment of the debt due to 
the army, did at the close of the last campaign excite 
greater discontents, and threaten more serious and alarm 
ing consequences, than it is easy for me to describe or 

iEr. 51.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 363 

you to conceive. Happily for us, the officers of highest CHAPTER 

rank and greatest consideration interposed ; and it was de- XIV ' 

terrnined to address Congress in an humble, pathetic, and 1783. 
explicit manner. 

"While the sovereign power appeared perfectly well m s opinion 

i i t ci of the New- 

dlSpOSed to do justice, it was discovered that the States burg ad- 
would enable them to do nothing ; and, in this state of 
affairs, and after some time spent on the business in 
Philadelphia, a report was made by the delegates of the 
army, giving a detail of the proceedings. Before this 
could be fully communicated to the troops, while the 
minds of all were in a peculiar state of inquietude and 
irritation, an anonymous writer, though he did not step 
forth and give his name boldly to the world, sent into 
circulation an address to the officers of the army, which, 
in point of composition, in elegance and force of expres 
sion, has rarely been equalled in the English language, 
and in which the dreadful alternative was proposed, of 
relinquishing the service in a body if the war continued, 
or retaining their arms in case of peace, until Congress 
should comply with all their demands. At the same 
time, 'and at the moment when their minds were in 
flamed by the most pathetic representations, a general 
meeting of the officers was summoned by another anony 
mous production. 

" It is impossible to say what would have been the 
consequences, had the author succeeded in his first plans. 
But, measures having been taken to postpone the meet 
ing, so as to give time for cool reflection and counterac 
tion, the good sense of the officers has terminated this 
affair in a manner, which reflects the greatest glory on 
themselves, and demands the highest expressions of grati 
tude from their country." 

Thus, by the prudent measures of the Commander- Tranquillity 

in-chief, the excitement was allayed, and tranquillity was htpm- b] 
restored to the army. Nor did he delay to fulfil the 
pledge he had made, writing to Congress with an earnest 
ness and force of argument, which showed him to be 



. 51. 


News of 
peace ar 

CHAPTER moved not less by his feelings, than by a sense of duty 
in asserting the rights and just claims of those, who, to 
use his own words, "had so long, so patiently, and so 
cheerfully suffered and fought under his direction," and 
urging a speedy decision in their favor. His representa 
tions and appeals were not disregarded. The subject 
was again considered in Congress, and the requisite num 
ber of States voted for the commutation of half-pay, and 
for the other provisions solicited by the officers in their 

In a few days the joyful news arrived, that a prelim 
inary treaty of peace had been signed at Paris. The 
intelligence was brought in a French vessel from Cadiz, 
with a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, who was 
then at that place preparing for an expedition to the 
West Indies under Count d'Estaing. Shortly afterwards 
Sir Guy Carleton communicated the same, as from official 
authority, and announced a cessation of hostilities. A pro 
clamation to this effect was made to the American army 
on the 19th of April, precisely eight years from the day 
on which the first blood was shed in this memorable con 
test at Lexington. 

Although the military labors of General Washington 
were now drawing to a close, in the attainment of the 
great object to which he had devoted himself with an 
ardor, constancy, endurance, and singleness of purpose, 
that had never been surpassed by any commander, yet 
his anxiety for the future was scarcely diminished. The 
love of liberty, which had prompted him to such trials 
and disinterested exertions in the cause of his country, 
was equally alive to the success of that cause in building 
up the fabric of freedom on a firm and durable basis. 

* The anonymous addresses were from the pen of Major John Arm 
strong, at that time an aid-de-camp to General Gates. They were 
written at the request of several officers, who believed that the tardy 
proceedings of Congress, and the reluctance of that body to recognise 
the claims of the public creditors, called for a more decided expres 
sion of the sentiments of the army. 


In a letter to Colonel Hamilton, who was then a dele- CHAPTER 
gate in Congress from the State of New York, he said; XIV ' 
" My wish to see the union of these States established 1783. 

upon liberal and permanent principles, and inclination to washing- 
ton's re 
contribute my mite in pointing out the defects of the marks on 

J . , the state of 

present constitution, are equally great. All my private the country 
letters have teemed with these sentiments, and, whenever March si. 
this topic has been the subject of conversation, I have 
endeavored to diffuse and enforce them ; but how far any 
further essay by me might be productive of the wished- 
for end, or appear to arrogate more than belongs to me, 
depends so much upon popular opinion, and the temper 
and dispositions of the people, that it is not easy to de 
cide. I shall be obliged to you, however, for the thoughts, 
which you have promised me on this subject, and as soon 
as you can make it convenient. No man in the United 
States is or can be more deeply impressed with the ne 
cessity of a reform in our present confederation than 
myself. No man perhaps has felt the bad effects of it 
more sensibly ; for to the defects thereof, and want of 
power in Congress, may justly be ascribed the prolonga 
tion of the war, and consequently the expenses occasioned 
by it. More than half the perplexities I have experienced 
in the course of my command, and almost the whole of 
the difficulties and distress of the army, have had their 
origin here. But still, the prejudices of some, the designs 
of others, and the mere machinery of the majority, make 
address and management necessary to give weight to 
opinions, which are to combat the doctrines of those dif 
ferent classes of men in the field of politics." 

To Lafayette he wrote ; " We are now an independent Letter to 
')) !e. and have yet to learn political tactics. We are 
placed among the nations of the earth, and have a char- Apnl 5> 

n>r to establish ; but how we shall acquit ourselves 
nine must discover. The prohnbility is (at least I fear 
it), that local or State politics will nterfpre too much with 
( in more liberal an<! ''vf- vcrnmerit, which 

wisdom and bl of prejudice, 



. 51. 


Plan for a 
peace estab 

Circular let 
ter to the 

June 8. 

would dictate ; and that we shall be guilty of .many blun 
ders in treading this boundless theatre, before we shall 
have arrived at any perfection in this art ; in a word, that 
the experience, which is purchased at the price of diffi-. 
culties and distress, will alone convince us, that the honor, 
power, and true interest of this country must be measured 
by a Continental scale, and that every departure there 
from weakens the Union, and may ultimately break the 
band which holds us together. To avert these evils, to 
form a new constitution, that will give consistency, sta 
bility, and dignity to the Union, and sufficient powers to 
the great council of the nation for general purposes, is a 
duty incumbent upon every man, who wishes well to his 
country, and will meet with my aid as far as it can be 
rendered in the private walks of life." 

The preparation of a plan for a peace establishment, 
which had been solicited by Congress, and some prelimi 
nary arrangements with the British commander in regard 
to the evacuation of New York, occupied him several 
weeks. For these latter objects he had a personal con 
ference with Sir Guy Carleton at Orangetown. 

The circular letter, which he wrote to the governors 
of the States, as his last official communication, and which 
was designed to be laid before the several legislatures, is 
remarkable for its ability, the deep interest it manifests 
for the officers and soldiers, who had fought the battles 
of their country, the soundness of its principles, and the 
wisdom of its counsels. Four great points he aims to 
enforce as essential in guiding the deliberations of every 
public body, and as claiming the serious attention of eve 
ry citizen, namely, an indissoluble union of the States ; 
a sacred regard to public justice ; the adoption of a proper 
military peace establishment ; and a pacific and friendly 
disposition among the people of the States, which should 
induce them to forget local prejudices, and incline them 
to mutual concessions for the advantage of the community. 
These he calls the pillars by which alone independence 
and national character can be supported. On each of these 


topics he remarks at considerable length, with a felicity CHAPTER 
of style and cogency of reasoning in all respects worthy XIV * 
of the subject. No public address could have been better 1783. 
adapted to the state of the times ; and coming from such 
a source, its influence on the minds of the people must 
have been effectual and most salutary. 

Many of the troops went home on furlough: and Gen- Tour to the 
eral Washington, having little to do in camp till the arri 
val of the definitive treaty, resolved to employ the interval 
in making a tour to the northward, for the double purpose 
of gratifying his curiosity in visiting the scenes of the 
late military operations in that quarter, and of ascertaining 
from observation the natural resources of the country. In 
company with Governor Clinton he ascended the Hudson 
to Albany, and proceeded thence over the battle-fields of 
Saratoga, as far as Ticonderoga and Crown Point. Turn 
ing then to the Mohawk River, he extended his journey 
westward to Fort Schuyler. He was absent from New- 
burg nineteen days. Ever regarding the condition and 
affairs of his country on a comprehensive scale, and fixing 
his thoughts on its importance as a nation, he saw, while 
on this tour, the immense advantages that would result 
from a water communication between the Hudson and 
the great lakes, and believed in its practicability. His 
hopes and his anticipations have since been realized in 
the magnificent work, opening a passage for boats by a 
canal from the 1 Hudson to Lake Erie, and effected by 
the enterprise and wealth of the State of New York. 

When he returned to Newburg, he found a letter from Attends 
the President of Congress, asking his attendance on that 
assembly, then in session at Princeton. The object of 
this request was, to consult him on the arrangements for 
peace, and other public concerns. While he was making 
preparations to leave camp, Congress conferred on him 
new honors. It was voted unanimously, that an eques 
trian statue of General Washington should be erected at 
the place where the residence of Congress should be estab 
lished, and that it should be executed by the best artist 

368 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [jE T . 51. 

CHAPTER in Europe, under the superintendence of the Minister of 

Z' the United States at the Court of Versailles.* 

Leaving the army under the immediate command of 
Addressed General Knox. the officers higher in rank having gone 

by the Presi- . ,. , . IT, 

dent of con- home by permission, Washington obeyed the summons of 
Congress, and went to Princeton, where he was intro 
duced into the assembly while in session by two of the 
members appointed for the purpose. He was then ad 
dressed by the President, who congratulated him on the 
success of the war, in which he had acted so conspicu 
ous and important a part. " In other nations," said the 
President, " many have performed eminent services, for 
which they have deserved the thanks of the public. But 
to you, Sir, peculiar praise is due. Your services have 
been essential in acquiring and establishing the freedom 
and independence of your country. They deserve the 
grateful acknowledgments of a free and independent na 
tion." To this address Washington replied in the pres 
ence of Congress, and then retired. A house was pro 
vided for him at Rocky Hill, three or four miles from 
Princeton, where he resided, holding conferences from time 

* The following is the description of this statue, as contained in the 
Journals of Congress. " Resolved, that the statue be of bronze ; the 
General to be represented in a Roman dress, holding a truncheon in 
his right hand, and his head encircled with a laurel wreath; the statue 
to be supported by a marble pedestal, on which are to be represented, 
in basso-rilievo, the following principal events of the war, in which 
General Washington commanded in person ; namely, the evacuation of 
Boston ; the capture of the Hessians at Trenton ; the battle of Prince 
ton ; the action of Monmouth ; and the surrender of York. On the up 
per part of the front of the pedestal to be engraved as follows ; ' The 
United States in Congress assembled, ordered this statue to be erected 
in the year of^our Lord 1 783, in honor of George Washington, the illus 
trious Commander-in-chief of the ^ armies of the United States of Jlmenca 
during the war, which vindicated and secure'! their liberty, sovereignty^ 
and independence.''" The intention of this rosolve was not fulfilled 
But Congress have recently voted a colossal' ue in marble, which is 
to be executed by Greenough, <> distinguished American artist at 
Florence. It is to occupy tho c"nt- <,f the -r at rotunda in the Cap 
itol at the seat of th^ nations^ ; r . 


to time with committees and members of Congress, and CHAPTER 
giving counsel on such subjects as were referred to his XIV< 

consideration. 1783. 

A large part of the officers and soldiers had been per- Disbanding 

, . /. i r- of the army. 

mitted during the summer to retire from the army on fur 
lough, and Congress issued a proclamation, on the 18th of 
October, discharging them from further service, and all 
others who had been engaged to serve during the war. 
The army was thus in effect disbanded. A small force 
only was retained, consisting of such troops as had been 
enlisted for a definite time, till the peace establishment 
should be organized. 

This proclamation was followed by General Washing- washing- 
ton's farewell address to the army, a performance not less weii address 
admirable in its principles and its objects, than his circu 
lar letter to the States. To his cordial and affectionate 
thanks for the devotedness of the officers and soldiers to 
him through the war, and for the manner in which they 
had discharged their duty, he adds seasonable advice as 
to their conduct in resuming the character of private citi 
zens, and in contributing to the support of civil govern 
ment. " Let it be known and remembered," said he, 
" that the reputation of the federal armies is established 
beyond the reach of malevolence ; and let a consciousness 
of their achievements and fame still incite the men, who 
composed them, to honorable actions ; under the persua 
sion, that the private virtues of economy, prudence, and 
industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the 
more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and enter 
prise were in the field. Every one may rest assured, 
that much, very much, of the future happiness of the 
officers and men will depend upon the wise and manly 
conduct, which shall be adopted by them when they are 
mingled with the great body of the community. And, 
although the General has so frequently given it as his 
opinion in the most public and explicit manner, that, un 
less the principles of the Federal Government were proper 
ly supported, and the powers of the Union increased, the 
47 M2 



[JE.T. 51. 


Sir Guy 
Carleton re 
ceives or 
ders to evac 
uate New 

takes pos 
session of 
New York. 

Nov. 25. 

honor, dignity, and justice of the nation would be lost for 
ever; yet he cannot help repeating, on this occasion, so 
interesting a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunc 
tion to every officer and every soldier, who may view the 
subject in the same serious point of light, to add his best 
endeavors to those of his worthy fellow citizens towards 
effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our 
very existence as a nation so materially depends." 

At length Sir Guy Carleton received orders from the 
ministry to evacuate New York, and gave notice to Gen 
eral Washington that he should soon be ready for that 
event. Delay had been occasioned by the want of trans 
ports in sufficient numbers to send to Nova Scotia the 
refugees, who htid sought protection in New York during 
the war, and the large amount of goods, stores, and mili 
tary supplies, which had accumulated in that city. Many 
of these persons would gladly have remained in the coun 
try, having property which they desired to recover, and 
relatives and friends whom they were reluctant to aban 
don ; but they were exiled by the laws /of the States, and 
could not be admitted to the privileges of a residence till 
these laws were repealed. 

Washington repaired to West Point, to which place 
General Knox had drawn the troops, that still remained 
in the service. Arrangements were made with Governor 
Clinton, the chief magistrate of the State of New York, 
by which the city was to be delivered into his charge. 
A detachment of troops marched from West Point to 
Haerlem, and was joined there by General Washington 
and Governor Clinton. In the morning of the 25th of No 
vember, they advanced to the upper part of the city, 
where they continued till one o'clock, when the British 
parties retired from the posts in that quarter, and were 
followed by the American infantry and artillery, preceded 
by a corps of dragoons. Meantime the British troops em 
barked. Possession being thus taken of the city, the mili 
tary officers, and the civil officers of the State, made a 
public entry. The General and Governor rode at the 


head of the procession on horseback. Then came in CHAPTER 
regular succession the lieutenant-governor and members XIV> 
of the council, General Knox and the officers of the army, 1783. 
the speaker of the assembly and citizens. They were 
escorted by % a body of Westchester light-horse, as a com 
pliment to the Governor and civil authority; the Conti 
nental military jurisdiction being supposed to have ceased, 
or at least to have been suspended in deference to the 
civil power of the State. Governor Clinton gave a public 
entertainment, with which the transactions of the day 
were closed. Perfect order and quiet prevailed from the 
beginning to the end, and no untoward incident occurred 
to mar the interest of an occasion, which had been so 
long wished for, and was so joyfully welcomed. 

A trial of feeling now awaited the Commander-in-chief, His last 

' meeting 

which for the moment was more severe and painful, than with the 

1 officers. 

any he had been called to bear. The time had arrived, 

3 Dec. 4. 

when he was to bid a final adieu to his companions in 
arms, to many of whom he was bound by the strongest 
ties of friendship, and for all of whom he felt a lively 
gratitude and sincere regard. " This affecting interview 
took place on the 4th of December. At noon, the princi 
pal officers of the army assembled at Frances's tavern, 
soon after which their beloved commander entered the 
room. His emotions were too strong to be concealed. 
Filling a glass, he turned to them and said, ' With a 
heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you; 
I most devoutly wish, that your latter days may be as 
prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been 
glorious and honorable.' Having drunk, he added, 'I 
cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall 
be obliged if each of you will come and take me by 
the hand.' General Knox, being nearest, turned to him. 
Washington, incapable of utterance, grasped his hand, and 
embraced him. In the same affectionate manner he took 
leave of each succeeding officer. The tear of manly sen 
sibility was in every eye ; and not a word was articulat 
ed to interrupt the dignified silence, and the tenderness 


CHAPTER of the scene. Leaving the room, he passed through the 
XIV - corps of light infantry, and walked to White Hall, where 
1783. a barge waited to convey him to Paulus Hook. The 
whole company followed in mute and solemn procession, 
with dejected countenances, testifying feelings of delicious 
melancholy, which no language can describe. Having 
entered the barge, he turned to the company, and, wav 
ing his hat, bid them a silent adieu. They paid him the 
same aifectionate compliment ; and, after the barge had 
left them, returned in the same solemn manner to the 
place where they had assembled." * 

Resigns his Congress had adjourned from Princeton to Annapolis in 


to congress. Maryland. Washington travelled slowly to that place, 
Dec. 25. greeted everywhere on the road by the acclamations of 
his fellow citizens, and the most gratifying tokens of their 
love and respect. As he passed along, public addresses 
were presented to him by the legislatures of New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, and Maryland, the Philosophical Society 
and University in Philadelphia, citizens of towns in their 
corporate capacity, religious societies, and various incorpo 
rated associations. Arrived at the seat of Congress, he 
informed the President, that he was ready to resign the 
commission, with which he had been honored in the ser 
vice of his country. This ceremony was performed in 
the Hall of Congress on the 23d of December, all the 
members and a large concourse of spectators being pres 
ent. At the close of his address on this occasion, he 
said ; " Having now finished the work assigned me, I 
retire from the great theatre of action ; and, bidding an 
affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose or 
ders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, 
and take my leave of all the employments of public life.' 7 
He then advanced and gave his commission into the 
hands of the President, who replied to his address. The 
ceremony being ended, he withdrew from the assembly, 
divested of his official character, and sustaining no other 
rank than that of a private citizen. 

* MARSHALL'S Life of Washington, 2d ed., Vol. II. p. 57. 


The next morning he left Annapolis and reached Mount CHAPTER 
Vernon the same day, having been absent in the com- XIV * 
mand of the army somewhat more than eight years and ]783 
a half, during which period he had never been at his Retires to 

private life 

own house except accidentally while on his way with 
Count de Rochambeau to Yorktown, and in returning 
from that expedition.* 

* For an account of General Washington's expenses during the 
time he had command of the army, see APPENDIX, No. III. 



r. 61. 



himself to 
his private 


He declines receiving pecuniary Compensation for his public Services. 
His Feelings on being relieved from the Burden of Office. Devotes him 
self to Agriculture. Makes a Tour to the Western Country. His ex 
tensive Plans for internal Navigation. These Plans adopted by the State 
of Virginia. Visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to America. Washing 
ton refuses to accept a Donation from the State of Virginia. His liberal 
Acts for the Encouragement of Education. Approves the Countess of 
Huntington's Scheme for civilizing and Christianizing the Indians. His 
Operations in Farming and Horticulture. Visitors at Mount Vernon. 
His Habits. Houdon's Statue. Condition of the Country and Defects 
of the Confederacy. Washington's Sentiments thereon. First Steps 
towards effecting a Reform. Convention at Annapolis. Proposal for a 
general Convention, and Washington appointed a Delegate from Virginia. 

His Reasons for wishing to decline. Society of the Cincinnati. 
Washington accepts the Appointment as Delegate. Attends the Conven 
tion, is chosen its President, and affixes his Name to the New Constitu 
tion. His Opinion of the Constitution. It is adopted by the People. 

Washington chosen the first President of the United States. 

GENERAL WASHINGTON believed his career as a public 
man to be now at an end. He seems indeed to have 
formed a resolution never again to leave his retirement, 
unless called out by some great exigency in the affairs 
of his country, which at that time he neither foresaw nor 
expected. However much he might have been gratified 
with the honors bestowed upon him by his countrymen, 
with the success of his long and unwearied services, and 
the applause of the whole civilized world, it was never 
theless with a heartfelt delight which none of these could 
give, that he returned to the quiet scenes and congenial 
employments of private life. For we may here repeat 
what has been said in a former part of this narrative, 
that no occupations interested him so much, or engaged 
his thoughts so constantly, as those of the practical agri 
culturist. He was fond of adorning and improving his 
grounds as an amusement, and was devoted to the culti- 


vation of his farms, upon a thorough, economical, and sys- CHAPTER 
tematic plan, both as a means of increasing his property, xv ' 
and as being suited to his tastes and early habits. 1784. 

His first care, after establishing himself at Mount Ver- 
non, was to examine minutely into the state of his private 
affairs, which had become deranged by his long absence 
and the disorders of the times. His fortune was ample 
for a republican citizen, and a man who derived neither 
consequence nor pleasure from display, .but it had neces 
sarily suffered a diminution during the war. Adhering 
rigidly to the resolution he had formed, when he accepted 
the command of the army, not to receive any remunera 
tion from the public, either in the shape of pay or other 
pecuniary reward, he now considered it a duty to repair 
the losses he had sustained, as well by economy in his 
style of living, as by all the usual efforts to increase the 
productiveness of his estates. 

Some of his countrymen, estimating his serviced to the Refuses to 

,,. ... ,. . ,.. . . . receive re- 

public at their just value, and knowing the injury his pn- numeration 
vate affairs had suffered in consequence of them, hoped to HC services, 
change his purpose of refusing pecuniary compensation. 
A few days before he resigned his commission, the Su 
preme Executive Council of Pennsylvania sent the follow 
ing instructions on this subject to the delegates in Congress 
from that State. 

" Though his Excellency General Washington proposes 
in a short time to retire, yet his illustrious actions and 
virtues render his character so splendid and venerable, 
that, it is highly probable, the admiration and esteem of 
the world may make his life in a very considerable de 
gree public, as numbers will be desirous of seeing the 
great and good man, who has so eminently contributed 
to the happiness of a nation. His very services to his 
country may therefore subject him to expenses, unless he 
permits her gratitude to interpose. 

" We are perfectly acquainted with the disinterestedness 
and generosity of his soul. He thinks himself amply re 
warded for all his labors and cares, by the love and 



[JEx. 52. 


prosperity of his fellow citizens. It is true, no rewards 
they can bestow can be equal to his merits. But they 
ought not to suffer those merits to be burdensome to him. 
We are convinced that the people of Pennsylvania would 
regret such a consequence. 

" We are aware of the delicacy, with which this 
subject must be treated. But, relying upon the good 
sense of Congress, we wish it may engage their early 

These instructions were received by the delegates, and 
a copy was forwarded to General Washington after he had 
arrived at Mount Vernon. It was not thought advisable 
to lay them before Congress, or take any steps in fulfil 
ling them, without his previous knowledge and approba 
tion. In this case, as in every other, he acted consistently 
with his character. He promptly declined the intended 
favor. All proceedings on the subject were accordingly 
stopped. There can be no doubt, that the sentiments 
of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania would have 
been responded to by the whole nation, and that a liberal 
grant from Congress would everywhere have met with a 
cordial assent. 

The feelings of Washington, on being relieved from 
the solicitude and burdens of office, were forcibly ex 
pressed in letters to his friends. " At length," said he, 
February i. in writing to Lafayette, " I am become a private citizen, 
on the banks of the Potomac ; and, under the shadow of 
my own vine and my own figtree, free from the bustle 
of a camp, and the busy scenes of public life, I am sol 
acing myself with those tranquil enjoyments, of which 
the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame, the statesman, 
whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in 
devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, 
perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if this globe was 
insufficient for us all, and the courtier, who is always 
watching the countenance of his prince, in hopes of 
catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. 
I have not only retired from all public employments, but 

His feelings 
on being re 
the burdens 
of office. 


I am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view CHAPTER 
the solitary walk, and tread the paths of private life, with xv ' 
a heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am deter- 1784. 
mined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, 
being the order for my march, I will move gently down 
the stream of life, until I sleep with my fathers." 

To General Knox he wrote ; " I am just beginning to Letter to 
experience that ease and freedom from public cares, which, Knox. 
however desirable, takes some time to realize ; for, strange February 20. 
as it may seem, it is nevertheless true, that it was not 
till lately I could get the better of my usual custom of 
ruminating, as soon as I waked in the morning, on the 
business of the ensuing day ; and of my surprise at find 
ing, after revolving many things in my mind, that I was 
no longer a public man, nor had any thing to do with 
public transactions. I feel now, however, as I conceive 
a wearied traveller must do, who, after treading many 
a painful step with a heavy burden on his shoulders, is 
eased of the latter, having reached the haven to which 
all the former were directed, and from his house-top is 
looking back, and tracing with an eager eye the mean 
ders by which he escaped the quicksands and mires which 
lay in his way ; and into which none but the all-power 
ful Guide and Dispenser of human events could have pre 
vented his falling." 

The time and thoughts of Washington were now con- Hospitality 
fined to his farms, and to such acts of hospitality as were 
demanded by the numerous visits from strangers and his 
acquaintances, who were drawn to Mount Vernon by mo 
tives of curiosity, admiration, and respect. However oner 
ous these visits might be, on some occasions, his house 
was open to all that came, and his personal civilities were 
so rendered as to strengthen the affections of his friends, 
and win the esteem of those, who had known him only 
by his fame, and revered him for his public character. 
And it is but just to say, that in all these duties Mrs. 
Washington performed her part with such discretion, assi 
duity, and courtesy, without ostentation on the one hand 
48 N2* 



. 52. 

Makes a 
tour to the 

CHAPTER or constraint on the other, as, at the same time that it 
proved the goodness of her heart and her power to please, 
insured the comfort and enjoyment of her guests, and con 
vinced them of the domestic harmony and happiness, that 
reigned in the mansion at Mount Vernon. 

In the month of September, 1784, Washington made a 
tour to the Western country, for the purpose of inspect 
ing the lands he owned beyond the Allegany Mountains, 
and also of ascertaining the practicability of opening a 
communication between the head waters of the rivers run 
ning eastward into the Atlantic, and those that flow west 
ward to the Ohio. The extent of this journey was six 
hundred and eighty miles, the whole of which he travel 
led on horseback, using pack-horses for the conveyance 
of a tent, the necessary baggage, and such supplies as 
could not be procured in the wild and unsettled regions 
through which he was to pass. He crossed the mountains 
by the usual route of Braddock's Road, and spent sev 
eral days in surveying and inspecting his lands on the 
Monongahela River, a part of which was occupied by set 
tlers. His . first intention was to descend the Ohio, as 
he had done in the year 1770, to the Great Kenhawa, 
where he owned a large tract of wild land ; but the hos 
tile temper of the Indians rendering this expedition haz 
ardous, and the motive not being strong enough to induce 
him to run risks, he advanced westward no farther than 
the Monongahela. Returning by a circuitous route, he 
passed through the heart of the wilderness, first ascending 
the Monongahela River, and thence traversing the coun 
try far to the south between the ridges of the Allegany 
Mountains, with the special view of deciding the question 
in his own mind, whether the Potomac and James Rivers 
could be connected by internal navigation with the west 
ern waters. He conversed on the subject with every in 
telligent person he met, and kept a journal in which he 
recorded the results of his observations and inquiries. 

His thoughts had been turned to this enterprise before 
the revolution ; and, since the peace, he had used un- 


wearied diligence by an extensive correspondence to pro- CHAPTER 

cure facts respecting the rivers falling into the Ohio from xv> . 

the west, and into the great Lakes, and also the distances 1784. 

from various navigable points in those rivers and lakes to Letter to the 

legislature of 

the head waters of the streams flowing towards the Atlan- Virginia on 


tic. Soon after returning from his western tour, he com- navigation, 
municated to the governor of Virginia the fruits of his 
investigations in a letter, one of the ablest, most saga 
cious, and most important productions of his pen. Pre 
senting first a clear state of the question, and showing 
the practicability of facilitating the intercourse of trade 
between the east and the west by improving and ex 
tending the water communications, he then proceeds by a 
train of unanswerable argument and illustration to explain 
the immense advantages, that would arise from such a 
measure, in strengthening the union of the States, multi 
plying the resources of trade, and promoting the prosperity 
of the country. 

" I need not remark to you," said he, " that the flanks Arguments 
and rear of the United States are possessed by other pow- witotor- 

. course with 

ers, and formidable ones too ; nor how necessary it is to the western 
apply the cement of interest to bind all parts of the Union 
together by indissoluble bonds, especially that part of it, 
which lies immediately west of us, with the middle States. 
For what ties, let me ask, should we have upon those 
people ? How entirely unconnected with them shall we 
be, and what troubles may we not apprehend, if the Span 
iards on their right, and Great Britain on their left, in 
stead of throwing stumblingblocks in their way, as they 
now do, should hold out lures for their trade and alliance ? 
What, when they get strength, which will be sooner than 
most people conceive (from the emigration of foreigners, 
who will have no particular predilection towards us, as 
well as from the removal of our own citizens), will be 
the consequence of their having formed close connexions 
with both or either of those powers, in a commercial 
way ? It needs not, in my opinion, the gift of prophecy 
to foretell. 



|>ET. 52. 



" The western States (I speak now from my own ob 
servation) stand as it were upon a pivot. The touch of 
a feather would turn them any way. They have looked 
down the Mississippi, until the Spaniards, very impolitical- 
ly I think for themselves, threw difficulties in their way ; 
and they looked that way for no other reason, than be 
cause they could glide gently down the stream ; without 
considering, perhaps, the difficulties of the voyage back 
again, and the time necessary to perform it in ; and be 
cause they have no other means of coming to us but by 
long land transportations and unimproved roads. These 
causes have hitherto checked the industry of the present 
settlers ; for, except the demand for provisions, occasioned 
by the increase of population, and a little flour, which the 
necessities of the Spaniards compel them to buy, they 
have no incitements to labor. But smooth the road, and 
make easy the way for them, and then see what an influx 
of articles will be poured upon us j how amazingly our 
exports will be increased by them, and how amply we 
shall be compensated for any trouble and expense we may 
encounter to effect it. 

" A combination of circumstances makes the present 
conjuncture more favorable for Virginia, than for any other 
State in the Union, to fix these matters. The jealous and 
untoward disposition of the Spaniards on one hand, and 
the private views of some individuals, coinciding with the 
general policy of the court of Great Britain, on the other, 
to retain as long as possible the posts of Detroit, Niagara, 
and Oswego, (which, though done under the letter of the 
treaty, is certainly an infraction of the spirit of it, and 
injurious to the Union,) may be improved to the greatest 
advantage by this State, if she would open the avenues 
to the trade of that country, and embrace the present mo 
ment to establish it. It only wants a beginning. The 
western inhabitants would do their part towards its execu 
tion. Weak as they are, they would meet us at least 
half way, rather than be driven into the arms of foreign 
ers, or be made dependent upon them ; which would 


eventually either bring on a separation of them from us, CHAPTER 

or a war between the United States and one or the other xv< 

of those powers, most probably with the Spaniards." 1784. 

At this time the State of Virginia, being large and surveys of 

. D the western 

powerful, stretching on one side to the Atlantic ocean rivers rec 

and on the other to the western waters, and having in 
its bosom two noble rivers descending from the summits 
of the Alleganies, he thought the most favorably situated 
for beginning the great work. He recommended, there 
fore, as a preliminary step, that commissioners should be 
appointed to survey the Potomac and James Rivers from 
tide-water to their sources, and the portages between 
them and the principal western streams, following these 
streams to their junction with the Ohio, measuring with 
accuracy the distances, noting the obstructions to be re 
moved, and estimating the probable expense. He also 
advised a similar survey of the rivers west of the Ohio 
as far as Detroit. " These things being done," said he, 
" I shall be mistaken if prejudice does not yield to facts, 
jealousy to candor, and finally, if reason and nature, thus 
aided, do not dictate what is right and proper to be 
done." The governor laid this letter before the legis 
lature. It was the first suggestion of the great system 
of internal improvements, which has since been pursued 
in the United States. 

A short time before his journey to the west, Wash- visit of La- 
ington had the satisfaction of receiving at Mount Vernon Moum e ver- 
the Marquis de Lafayette, for whom he cherished the 
warmest friendship, heightened* by gratitude for the dis 
interestedness and ardor with which he had espoused the 
cause of American freedom, and the signal services he 
had rendered. Two or three months were passed by 
Lafayette in the middle and eastern States, and in No 
vember he arrived at Richmond in Virginia. Washington 
met him at that place, where they were both received 
with public honors by the legislature then in session. 
They returned together to Mount Vernon ; and, when 
Lafayette's visit was concluded, Washington accompanied 
him on his way to Annapolis. 



. 52. 


Departure of 

Dec. 8. 

for internal 

In a letter to Lafayette's wife he said ; " We restore 
the Marquis to you in good health, crowned with wreaths 
of love and respect from every part of the Union." The* 
parting of the two friends was affecting, and showed the 
strength of the ties by which they were united. As soon 
as he reached home, Washington wrote to him as fol 
lows. " In the moment of our separation, upon the road 
as I travelled, and every hour since, I have felt all that 
love, respect, and attachment for you, with which length 
of years, close connexion, and your merits have inspired 
me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, 
whether that was the last sight I ever should have of 
you ? And, though I wished to say No, my fears an 
swered Yes. I called to mind the days of my youth, 
and found they had long since fled to return no more ; 
that I was now descending the hill I had been fifty- 
two years climbing, and that, though I was blest with 
a good constitution, I was of a short-lived family, and 
might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of 
my fathers. These thoughts darkened the shades, and 
gave a gloom to the picture, and consequently to my 
prospect of seeing you again." This melancholy presage 
was fulfilled. They never met afterwards. But their at 
tachment remained indissoluble, and Washington lived to 
sympathize in the misfortunes of his friend, and to have 
the consolation of using all the means in his power to 
rescue him from the sufferings he so long endured in a 
cruel imprisonment. 

The hopes of General Washington, in regard to his 
favorite scheme of internal navigation, were more than 
realized. The legislature of Virginia, after duly consider 
ing his letter to- the governor, not only appointed the 
commission for surveys, but organized two companies, 
called the Potomac Company and the James River Com 
pany, for the purpose of carrying the plan into effect. 
They moreover complimented him without a dissenting 
voice, by a donation of fifty shares in the former com 
pany, and one hundred shares in the latter ; the fifty 


shares being estimated at ten thousand dollars, and the CHAPTER 
others at five thousand pounds sterling. Aware of his 
delicacy on the subject of receiving money from the pub- 1785. 
lie, the legislature contrived to frame the preamble of the 
act in such language, as, it was hoped, would remove 
his scruples. " It is the desire of the representatives of 
this commonwealth to embrace every suitable occasion of 
testifying their sense of the unexampled merits of George 
Washington towards his country ; and it is their wish in 
particular, that those great works for its improvement, 
which, both as springing from the liberty which he has 
been so instrumental in establishing, and as encouraged 
by his patronage, will be durable monuments of his 
glory, may be made monuments also of the gratitude of 
his country." 

If he was highly gratified, as he must have been, with Washington 
this public testimony of affection and respect, he was 

scarcely less embarrassed by it. Not that he hesitated, Virginia. 
as to the course he should pursue, but the grant had 
been made in so liberal a manner, and from motives so 
pure, that he feared a refusal might be regarded in an 
unfavorable light, as evincing either ingratitude to his 
friends, or a disposition to gain applause by a show of 
disinterestedness, unusual if not unnecessary. He stated 
his difficulties freely in private letters to the governor, 
and to some of the principal members of the legislature ; 
declaring, at the same time, that he could not, consist 
ently with his principles, accept the proffered gift in such 
a way, that he should derive from it any emolument to 
himself. A positive decision was not required till the 
next session of the legislature, when he wrote officially 
to the governor declining the grant ; but, lest the opera 
tions of the companies should be retarded by withdrawing 
the subscriptions for the shares, which had been made 
by the treasurer on his account, he suggested, that, if 
the Assembly should think proper to submit to him the 
appropriation of them for some object of a public nature, 
he would accept the trust. His proposition was cheerfully 



. 53. 



to the sup 
port of edu 

of William 
and Mary 

acceded to ; and, by an act of the Assembly, th shares 
were assigned to such public objects, as he should direct 
during his life, or by his last will and testament. 

The purpose, which he first had in view, was the en 
couragement of education, and this purpose was ultimately 
accomplished. Some time before his death, he made over 
the shares in the James River Company to an institution 
in Rockbridge County, then called Liberty Hall Academy. 
The name has since been changed to Washington College. 
The fifty shares in the Potomac Company he bequeathed 
in perpetuity for the endowment of a university in the 
District of Columbia, under the auspices of the govern 
ment ; and, if such a seminary should not be established 
by the government, the fund was to increase till it should 
be adequate, with such other resources as might be ob 
tained, for the accomplishment of the design. The es 
tablishing of a national university was always one of his 
favorite schemes. He recommended it in his messages 
to Congress, and often in his letters spoke of the advan 
tages, which would be derived from it to the nation.* 

It may here be added, that he was a zealous advocate 
for schools and literary institutions of every kind, and 
sought to promote them, whenever an opportunity offered, 
by his public addresses and by private benefactions. In 
this spirit he accepted the chancellorship of William and 
Mary College, being earnestly solicited by the trustees. In 
his answer to them, accepting the appointment, he said ; 
" I rely fully in your strenuous endeavors for placing the 
system on such a basis, as will render it most beneficial 
to the State and the republic of letters, as well as to the 
more extensive interests of humanity and religion." The 

* The donation to Washington College has been productive, and the 
proceeds arising from it have contributed essential aid to that institu 
tion. No part of the other fund has been as yet employed for liter 
ary purposes. The Potomac Company seems to have been merged in 
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. The shares appropriated 
by Washington's will are doubtless held in trust by the latter company 
for their destined object. 


chancellor's duty consisted chiefly in suggesting and ap- CHAPTER 
proving measures for the management of the college, and xv ' 

in recommending professors and teachers to fill vacancies 1785. 
in the departments of instruction. 

The acts of charity by which he contributed from his Donation for 

_ /* 11 the educa- 

pnvate means to foster education were not few nor small, tiononndi- 
During many years, he gave fifty pounds annually for the dren. 
instruction of indigent children in Alexandria; and by 
will he left a legacy of four thousand dollars, the net 
income of which was to be used for the same benevolent 
object for ever. Two or three instances are known, in 
which he offered to pay the expenses of young men 
through their collegiate course. When General Greene 
died, he proposed to take under his protection one of the 
sons of his departed friend, pay the charges of his edu 
cation, and bring him forward into life. Fortunately the 
circumstances, in which General Greene left his family, 
rendered this act of munificence and paternal care unne 
cessary. Other examples might be cited; and, from his 
cautious habit of concealing from the world his deeds of 
charity, it may be presumed many others are unknown, 
in which his heart and his hand were open to the relief 
of indigent merit. 

The Countess of Huntington, celebrated for her reli- Favors the 
gious enthusiasm and liberal charities, formed a scheme ?iunngtJn y 
for civilizing and Christianizing the North American In- 
dians. Being a daughter of the Earl of Ferrers, who 
was descended through the female line from a remote 
branch of the Washington family, she claimed relation 
ship to General Washington, and wrote to him several 
letters respecting her project of benevolence and piety in 
America. It was her design to form, at her own charge, 
in the neighborhood of some of the Indian tribes, a set 
tlement of industrious emigrants, who, by their example 
and habits, should gradually introduce among them the 
arts of civilization ; and missionaries were to teach them 
the principles of Christianity. Lady Huntington proposed, 
that the government of the United States should grant 
49 o2 



. 53. 


CHAPTER a tract of wild lands upon which her emigrants and mis- 
xv< sionaries should establish themselves. A scheme, prompt 
ed by motives so pure, and founded on so rational a 
basis, gained at once the approbation arid countenance of 
Washington. He wrote to the President of Congress, and 
to the governors of some of the States, expressing favor 
able sentiments of Lady Huntington's application. Politi 
cal and local reasons interfered to defeat the plan. In the 
first place, it was thought doubtful whether a colony of 
foreigners settled on the western frontier, near the En 
glish on one side and the Spaniards on the other, would 
in the end prove conducive to the public tranquillity. 
And, in the next place, the States individually had ceded 
all their wild lands to the Union, and Congress were not 
certain that they possessed power to grant any portion 
of the new territory for such an object. Hence the pro 
ject was laid aside, although Washington oifered to fa 
cilitate it as far as he could on a smaller scale, by allow 
ing settlers to occupy his own lands, and be employed 
according to Lady Huntington's views. 

In the spring of 1785, he was engaged for several 
weeks in planting his grounds at Mount Vernon with trees 
and shrubs. To this interesting branch of husbandry he 
had devoted considerable attention before the war, and 
during that period he had endeavored to carry out his 
plans of improvement. In some of his letters from camp, 
he gave minute directions to his manager for removing 
and planting trees j but want of skill and other causes 
prevented these directions from being complied with, ex 
cept in a very imperfect manner. The first year after the 
war, he applied himself mainly to farming operations, 
with the view of restoring his neglected fields and com 
mencing a regular system of practical agriculture. He 
gradually abandoned the cultivation of tobacco, which 
exhausted his lands, and substituted wheat and grass, as 
better suited to the soil, and in the aggregate more profit 
able. He began a new method of rotation of crops, in 
which he studied the particular qualities of the soil in 

His farming 


the different parts of his farms, causing wheat, maize, po- CHAPTER 
tatoes, oats, grass, and other crops to succeed each other xv< 
in the same field at stated times. So exact was he in 1785. 
this method, that he drew out a scheme in which all his 
fields were numbered, and the crops assigned to them for 
several years in advance. It proved so successful, that 
he pursued it to the end of his life, with occasional slight 
deviations by way of experiment. 

Having thus arranged and systematized his agricultural occupied in 

. . planting his 

operations, he now set himself at work in earnest to ex- grounds at 

. e. i ^ ' Mount Ver- 

ecute his purpose of planting and adorning the grounds non. 
around the mansion-house. In the direction of the left 
wing, and at a considerable distance, was a vegetable 
garden ; and on the right, at an equal distance, was 
another garden for ornamental shrubs, plants, and flowers. 
Between these gardens, in front of the house, was a spa 
cious lawn, surrounded by serpentine walks. Beyond the 
gardens and lawn were the orchards. Very early in the 
spring he began with the lawn, selecting the choicest 
trees from the woods on his estates, and transferring 
them to the borders of the serpentine walks, arranging 
them in such a manner as to produce symmetry and 
beauty in the general effect, intermingling in just pro 
portions forest tress, evergreens, and flowering shrubs. He 
attended personally to the selection, removal, and planting 
of every tree ; and his Diary, which is very particular 
from day to day through the whole process, proves that 
he engaged in it with intense interest, and anxiously 
watched each tree and shoot till it showed signs of re 
newed growth. Such trees as were not found on his own 
lands, he obtained from other parts of the country, and 
at length his design was completed according to his 

The orchards, gardens, and green-houses were next re- Hi 
plenished with all the varieties of rare fruit-trees, vege- 
tables, shrubs, and flowering plants, which he could pro 
cure. This was less easily accomplished ; but, horticulture 
being with him a favorite pursuit, he continued during 



[>ET. 53. 

His numer 
ous avoca 

CHAPTER his life to make new accessions of fruits and plants, both 
xv> native and exotic. Priming trees was one of his amuse- 

1785. ments ; and in the proper season he might be seen almost 
daily in his grounds and gardens with a pruning-hook or 
other horticultural implements in his hands. Skilful gar 
deners were sought by him from Europe, whose knowl 
edge and experience enabled him to execute his plans. 

Although relieved from public cares, he soon discovered, 
that the prospect, which he had so fondly cherished, of 
enjoying the repose of retirement, was much brighter than 
the reality. Writing to General Knox, he said, " It is 
not the letters from my friends, which give me trouble, 
or add aught to my perplexity. It is references to old 
matters, with whbh I have nothing to do ; applications 
which oftentimes cannot be complied with ; inquiries 
which would require the pen of a historian to satisfy ; 
letters of compliment, as unmeaning perhaps as they are 
troublesome, but which must be attended to ; and the 
commonplace business, which employs my pen and my 
time, often disagreeably. Indeed these, with company, 
deprive me of exercise, and, unless I can obtain relief, 
must be productive of disagreeable consequences." The 
applications, of which he complains, were chiefly from 
officers or other persons, who had been connected with 
the army, and who wished to obtain from him certificates 
of character, or of services rendered during the war, or 
some other statement from his pen, for the purpose of 
substantiating claims upon the government. His real at 
tachment to all who had served faithfully in the army, 
as well as his humanity, prompted him to comply with 
these requests ; but in many cases they were unreasonable, 
and in all troublesome, as they required an examination 
of his voluminous papers, and a recurrence to facts which 
often could not be easily ascertained. And then his cor 
respondence on topics of public interest, friendship, and 
civility, with persons in Europe and America, was very 
extensive. Add to this, his private affairs, the keeping of 
accounts, and his letters of business. For more than two 


years after the close of the war he had no clerk or secre- CHAPTER 
tary, and he was therefore incessantly employed in writ- xv> 
ing. At length this labor was in some degree lessened 1785. 
by the aid of Mr. Lear, who became his secretary, and 
resided in his family many years on terms of intimate 

The multitude of visitors at Mount Vernon increased, visitor, at 

Mount Ver 

They came from the Old World and the New. Among <>n. 
them were foreigners of distinction, particularly from 
France and other countries on the continent of Europe, 
bringing letters of introduction from the Marquis de La 
fayette, Count de Rochambeau, Count d'Estaing, and 
some of the other general officers, who had served in 
America. The celebrated authoress and champion of lib 
erty, Catherine Macaulay Graham, professed to have cross 
ed the Atlantic for the sole purpose of testifying in per 
son her admiration of the character and deeds of Wash 
ington. His own countrymen, in every part of the Union, 
as may well be supposed, were not less earnest in their 
good will, or less ready to prove their respect and attach 
ment. Some came to keep alive friendship, some to ask 
counsel on public affairs, and many to gratify a natural 
and ardent curiosity. This throng of visitors necessarily 
demanded much of his time ; but in other respects the 
task of receiving them was made easy by the admirable 
economy of the household under the management of 
Mrs. Washington. 

His habits were uniform, and nearly the same as they His daily 
had been previously to the war. He rose before the sun, 
and employed himself in his study, writing letters or read 
ing, till the hour of breakfast. When breakfast was over, 
his horse was ready at the door, and he rode to his farms 
and gave directions for the day to the managers and la 
borers. Horses were likewise prepared for his guests, 
whenever they chose to accompany him, or to amuse 
themselves by excursions into the country. Returning 
from his fields, and despatching such business as happen 
ed to be on hand, he went again to his study, and con- 



CHAPTER tinned there till three o'clock, when he was summoned 

xv> to dinner. The remainder of the day and the evening 

1785. were devoted to company, or to recreation in the family 

circle. At ten he retired to rest. From these habits he 

seldom deviated, unless compelled to do so by particular 


Houdon's The State of Virginia having resolved to erect a statue 

Washington, in honor of General Washington, the governor was author 
ized to employ an artist in Europe to execute it. Dr. 
Franklin and Mr. Jefferson, then in Paris, were commis 
sioned to select the artist and make the contract. They 
chose M. Houdon, who was accounted one of the first 
statuaries of his time. It was the intention, that the 
statue should bear an exact resemblance to the original. 
M. Houdon engaged in the undertaking with great en 
thusiasm, and came to America in the same vessel, that 
conveyed Dr. Franklin home from his long and brilliant 
mission to France. He was at Mount Vernon three weeks, 
in the Month of October, 1785, and modelled a bust of 
General Washington, as exact in all its lineaments as his 
skill could make it. The statue is a precise copy of the 
model, and is undoubtedly the best representation of the 
original that exists.* 

* Three statues of Washington have been executed, by three of the 
most eminent artists in modern times ; the first by Houdon, the second 
by Canova, and the third by Chantrey. The statue by Houdon stands 
in the Capitol at Richmond, and is believed to be as perfect a resem 
blance of the original, both in the features and the figure, as the sculp 
tor's art will admit The costume is modern, being that in which 
General Washington was accustomed to appear as Commander-in- 
chief. Critics have objected to this style of dress, as neither classical, 
graceful, nor suited to the dignity of the art However this may be, it 
will always give pleasure as presenting an exact representation, and as 
calling up historical associations. Canova's statue was made for the 
State of North Carolina. It is in a sitting posture, with a Roman 
costume. The artist aimed to exhibit his conception of the character, 
rather than the bodily resemblance, of Washington. This splendid 
specimen of art has been mutilated, and nearly destroyed, by a fire 
which consumed the Capitol at Raleigh. Chantrey's statue was pro 
cured by a private subscription, and is placed in the Statehouse at 

/r. 53.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 391 

However much Washington was devoted to his private CHAPTER 
pursuits, so congenial to his taste and so exacting in their v ' 
claims on his attention, yet neither his zeal for the pub- 1785 - 
lie good, nor the importunity of his correspondents, would 2j^JJ.J 
allow his thoughts to be withdrawn from the political JjJ e ( J|JJJ tr of 
condition of his country. His opinions were asked and 
his advice was sought by the patriotic leaders in the pub 
lic councils, and by such eminent persons as had been his 
coadjutors in the great work of independence, who now 
looked with concern upon the system of national govern 
ment, which was confessedly inadequate to stand by its 
own strength, much less to sustain the Union of the States. 
This union had hitherto been preserved by the pressure 
of war. It was rather the last resort of a stern necessity, 
than the spontaneous choice of all the thirteen republics. 
Peace had taken away its main props, and was fast dis 
solving the slender bands by which it was bound togeth 
er. Congress was its centre of action ; and this body, 
imperfectly organized, possessing little real authority, never 
confident in what it possessed, and often distracted by 
party discords, had become almost powerless. 

The confederation had proved itself to be defective in 

Boston. The costume is a military cloak, which displays the figure 
to advantage. The effect is imposing and good ; but, instead of con 
fining himself to a close delineation of the features, the sculptor, 
like Canova, has allowed some latitude to his genius in expressing 
his idea of the character of his subject. The Washington Monu 
ment at Baltimore, in memory of the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, is a 
tribute worthy of the name, and most honorable to the liberality and 
public spirit by which it was erected. 

Innumerable casts have been taken from moulds formed upon Hou- 
don's bust. It is rare, however, to find an accurate one. The 
moulds have been so often repeated from imperfect casts, with the 
attempts of bungling fabricators to correct or improve them, that the 
features have become changed and distorted, till very little of the 
original likeness remains, and all the spirit is gone. The busts com 
monly sold in Italy are from a different artist, probably some one 
who came to America after Houdon. Their resemblance to Wash 
ington is scarcely perceptible. The best casts from Houdon's bust 
are those executed by Deville, in the Strand, London. 

392 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [fix. 53. 

CHAPTER many points absolutely essential to the prosperity of a 
x ^' national government, if not to its very existence. The 
1785. mos t remarkable of these defects was the want of power 
to regulate commerce, and to provide for the payment of 
debts contracted by the confederacy. Without such power 
it was impossible to execute treaties, fulfil foreign en 
gagements, or cause the nation to be respected abroad ; 
and equally so, to render justice to public creditors at 
home, and to appease the clamor of discontent and dis 
affection, which so glaring a breach of public faith would 
naturally raise. 

washing- It was evident to all, that an alarming crisis was near 
mentson at hand, scarcely less to be dreaded than the war from 

the state 

affairs 1 '* 5 wm ch the country had just emerged, unless a timely 
and effectual remedy could be provided. Washington's 
sentiments were often, freely, and feelingly expressed. 
{ That we have it in our power," said he, " to become 
one of the most respectable nations upon earth, admits, 
in my humble opinion, of no doubt, if we would but 
pursue a wise, just, and liberal policy towards one an 
other, and keep good faith with the rest of the world. 
That our resources are ample and increasing, none can 
deny ; but, while they are grudgingly applied, or not ap 
plied at all, we give a vital stab to public faith, and 
shall sink, in the eyes of Europe, into contempt. It has 
long been a speculative question among philosophers and 
wise men, whether foreign commerce is of real advantage 
to any country ; that is, whether the luxury, effeminacy, 
and corruptions, which are introduced along with it, are 
counterbalanced by the convenience and wealth which it 
brings. But the decision of this question is of very little 
importance to us. We have abundant reason to be con 
vinced, that the spirit of trade, which pervades these 
States, is not to be restrained. It behoves us then to 
establish just principles ; and this cannot, any more than 
other matters of national concern, be done by thirteen 
heads, differently constructed and organized. The neces 
sity, therefore, of a controlling power is obvious ; and why 
it should be withheld is beyond my comprehension." 


Again, in writing to Mr. Jay ; " To be fearful of in- CHAPTER 
vesting Congress, constituted as that body is, with ample xv> 
authorities for national purposes, appears to me the very 1785. 
climax of popular absurdity and madness. Could Con- Powers of 
gress exert them for the detriment of the public, with- sufficient. 
out injuring themselves in an equal or greater proportion? 
Are not their interests inseparably connected with those 
of their constituents ? By the rotation of appointment, 
must they not mingle frequently with the mass of citi 
zens ? Is it not rather to be apprehended, if they were 
possessed of the powers before described, that the indi 
vidual members would be induced to use them, on many 
occasions, very timidly and inefficaciously for fear of los 
ing their popularity and future election? We must take 
human nature as we find it. Perfection falls not to the 
share of mortals. Many are of opinion, that Congress 
have too frequently made use of the suppliant, humble 
tone of requisition in applications to the States, when 
they had a right to assert their imperial dignity and com 
mand obedience. Be that as it may, requisitions are a 
perfect nullity where thirteen sovereign, independent, dis 
united States are in the habit of discussing and refusing 
compliance with them at their option. Requisitions are 
actually little better than a jest and a by-word through 
out the land. If you tell the legislatures they have vio 
lated the treaty of peace, and invaded the prerogatives 
of the confederacy, they will laugh in your face. What 
then is to be done? Things cannot go on in the same 
train for ever. It is much to be feared, as you observe, 
that the better kind of people, being disgusted with the 
circumstances, will have their minds prepared for any rev 
olution whatever. We are apt to run from one extreme 
to another. To anticipate and prevent disastrous contin 
gencies would be the part of wisdom and patriotism. 

"What astonishing changes a few years are capable of 
producing. I am told, that even respectable characters 
speak of a monarchical form of government without hor 
ror. From thinking proceeds speaking ; thence to acting 


CHAPTER is often but a single step. But how irrevocable and tre 
mendous ! What a triumph for our enemies to verify 
their predictions! What a triumph for the advocates of 
despotism to find, that we are incapable of governing our 
selves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal 
liberty are merely ideal and fallacious ! Would to God, 
that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the 
consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend." 
Nor were his apprehensions confined to the defects in 

Bions from 

the system of government and the modes of administering 
it. The intrigues of designing and unprincipled men, 
little restrained by the arm of an efficient power, were 
still more to be feared. " There are errors in our nation 
al government," he said, " which call for correction ; loud 
ly, I would add. We are certainly in a delicate situation ; 
but my fear is, that the people are not yet sufficiently 
misled to retract from error. To be plainer, I think 
there is more wickedness than ignorance mixed in our 
councils. Ignorance and design are difficult to combat 
Out of these proceed illiberal sentiments, improper jeal 
ousies, and a train of evils, which oftentimes in republican 
governments must be sorely felt before they can be re 
moved. The former, that is ignorance, being a fit soil 
for the latter to work in, tools are employed which a gen 
erous mind would disdain to use ; and which nothing but 
time, and their own puerile or wicked productions, can 
show the inefficacy and dangerous tendency of. I think 
often of our situation, and view it with concern:" 

Demagogues are the natural fruit of republics ; and the 
fabled Upas could not be more poisonous or desolating to 
the soil from which it springs. Envious of his superiors, 
panting for honors which he is conscious he can never 
deserve, endowed with no higher faculties than cunning 
and an impudent hardihood, reckless of consequences, and 
grovelling alike in spirit and motive, the demagogue seeks 
first to cajole the people, then to corrupt, and last of all 
to betray and ruin them. When he has brought down 
the high to a level with himself, and depressed the low 


till they are pliant to his will, his work is achieved. The CHAPTER 
treachery of a Catiline or a Borgia may be detected by a xv> 
fortunate accident, and crushed in its infancy; but the 1786. 
demagogue, under his panoply of falsehood and chicane, 
may gradually sap the foundations of social order, and 
his country may be left with no other recompense for 
the ruin he has wrought and the misery he has caused, 
than the poor consolation of execrating his name. 

In short, the embarrassments growing out of the weak- Jeaiouaies of 
ness of the confederacy, the utter inability of Congress to 
collect the means for paying the public debts or to pro 
vide for their security, the jealousies of the States, and 
the factious spirit of individuals, filled the mind of every 
true friend to his country with gloom and despondency. 
Congress had recommended an impost, or rate of duties, 
which was to be uniform in all the States, and the pro 
ceeds of which were to be appropriated to relieve the 
national wants. The States came tardily into this meas 
ure, as it seemed to be yielding a power, which was 
claimed as a special prerogative of State sovereignty. The 
States, in which commerce chiefly centred, were influen 
ced by another motive. A larger amount would be drawn 
from the revenue in such States, than in others of equal 
or greater extent, population, and internal wealth. The 
fact was overlooked or disregarded, that the consumers, 
wherever they resided, actually paid the impost, and that 
the commercial States, by controlling the impost in their 
own ports, enjoyed advantages which the others did not 
possess. New York never acceded to the recommendation 
of Congress in such a manner as to make it operative ; 
and, as the success of the measure everywhere depended 
on the caprice of the legislatures, and a rigid system of 
collection faithfully administered, there was but little hope 
of its answering the important end of supplying the na 
tional treasury. 

A dissolution of the Union, or an early and thorough A reform 
reform, was inevitable. The mode of effecting the latter, neceM 
and saving the republic, was a theme upon which Wash- 



. 54. 


CHAPTER ington dwelt with deep solicitude in his correspondence 
and conversations with his friends. By a concurrence of 
favorable circumstances his advice and personal efforts 
were made available at the beginning of the train of 
events, which ended in the achievement of the constitu 
tion, " To form a compact relative to the navigation of 
the rivers Potomac and Pocomoke, and of part of the bay 
of Chesapeake, commissioners were appointed by the leg 
islatures of Virginia- and Maryland, who assembled at 
Alexandria, in March, 1785. While at Mount Vernon on 
a visit, they agreed to propose to their respective gov 
ernments the appointment of other commissioners, with 
power to make conjoint arrangements, to which the assent 
of Congress was to be solicited, for maintaining a naval 
force in the Chesapeake, and to establish a tariff of du 
ties on imports, to which the laws of both States should 
conform. When these propositions received the assent of 
the legislature of Virginia, an additional resolution was 
passed, directing that which respected the duties on im 
ports to be communicated to all the States in the Union,' 
which were invited to send deputies to the meeting." * 
Accordingly, in January following, the Assembly of 
Virginia appointed commissioners, who were instructed to 
meet such as should be appointed by the other States, 
" to take into consideration the trade of the United States, 
to examine the relative situation and trade of the said 
States, to consider how far a uniform system in their com 
mercial relations may be necessary to their common inter 
est and their permanent harmony, and to report to the 
several States such an act relative to this great object, 
as, when unanimously ratified by them, will enable the 
United States in Congress assembled effectually to provide 
for the same." The commissioners met at Annapolis, in 
September, 1786. Five States only sent deputies, and 
some of these came with such limited powers, that it was 
soon ascertained that nothing could be done towards 

sioners meet 
at Anna 


* MARSHALL'S Life of Washington, 2d edition, Vol. II. p. 105. 


effecting the object for which they had come together. CHAPTER 
Their deliberations ended in a report to their respective _J^_ 
States, in which they represented the defects of the fed- 1786. 
era! system, and the necessity of a revision. They like 
wise recommended another convention of deputies from 
all the States, furnished with requisite powers, who should 
meet at Philadelphia on the second day of May. At the 
same time they sent a letter to Congress, accompanied 
with a copy of their report to the States. 

When the legislature of Virginia assembled, the report Virginia 
of the deputies was taken into consideration, and it was delegates to 
resolved to appoint seven delegates to meet those from convention, 
the other States in a general convention. Washington's December 4. 
name was put at the head of the list, and he was chosen 
by a unanimous vote of the representatives. The intel 
ligence was first communicated to him by Mr. Madison, 
then a member of the Assembly, and afterwards officially 
by the governor. 

He was not a little embarrassed with this choice, for, Washington 

although he heartily approved the measure, yet he thought adefega'te 

..'-. to the con- 

there were reasons 01 a personal nature, which made it vemion. 

inexpedient, if not improper, for him to take any part in 
it. He did not absolutely decline, but suggested his dif 
ficulties, and expressed a hope, that some other person 
would be appointed in his place. As the weight of his 
name and the wisdom of his counsels were felt to be 
extremely important, in giving dignity and success to the 
proceedings of the convention, and as several months 
would intervene before the meeting, neither the gov 
ernor nor his other friends pressed him to a hasty de 
cision, trusting that time and reflection would remove 
his doubts. 

His objections were frankly stated, and they are among His objec- 
the many evidences of his scrupulous regard to directness ceding the" 

i . . <* i -I ' r / / -r i appoint- 

and consistency in every act of his life. " It is not only ment. 
inconvenient for me to leave home," said he to the gov- Dec.2i. 
ernor, " but there will be, I apprehend, too much cause 
to charge my conduct with inconsistency in again appearing 



[JET. 54. 

Society of 
the Cincin 

CHAPTER on a public theatre, after a public declaration to the con- 
xv * trary j and it will, I fear, have a tendency to sweep me 
1786. b ac k into the tide of public affairs, when retirement and 
ea*se are so much desired by me, and so essentially neces 
sary." There can be no doubt, that, when he resigned 
his commission in the army, he firmly believed nothing 
could again occur to draw him from the retirement, to 
which he returned with such unfeigned satisfaction, and 
which no other consideration than the superior claims of 
his country could induce him to forego. On the present 
occasion he was not convinced, that his services would be 
more valuable than those of other citizens, whose ability 
and knowledge of public affairs, as his modesty would 
persuade him, better qualified them for the task of de 
vising and maturing a system of civil government. 

There was another objection, also, which seemed to bear 
with considerable weight on his mind.* At the close of 
the war, some of the officers had formed themselves into 
an association, called the Society of the Cincinnati, the 
object of which was to establish a bond of union and fel 
lowship between the officers, who had served together 
during the war, and were then about to be separated, and 
particularly to raise a permanent fund for the relief of 
unfortunate members, their widows, and orphans. Al 
though Washington was not concerned in forming this 
society, yet he was well pleased with its benevolent de 
sign, and consented to be its president. Unexpectedly to 
him, however, and to all others connected with it, a very 
general dissatisfaction arose throughout the country, in re 
gard to some of the principles upon which the society 
was founded. It was to be hereditary in the families of 
the members ; it had a badge, or order, offensive in repub 
lican eyes, as imitating the European orders of knight 
hood ; it admitted foreign officers, who had served in 
America, and their descendants ; it provided for an indefi 
nite accumulation of funds, which were to be disposed of 
at the discretion of the members. Discontents grew into 
clamorous censures. Pamphlets were written against the 


society, and it was denounced as antirepublican, and a CHAPTER 
dangerous political engine. At the first general meeting, xv ' 
which was held at Philadelphia in May, 1784, Washing- 1786. 
ton exerted himself successfully to have the most objec 
tionable features altered, and the articles of association 
were new modelled conformably to his suggestions. After 
these changes the alarmists were less vehement in their 
attacks ; but they were not silenced, and the society con 
tinued to be looked upon with jealousy and disappro 

A second general meeting was to take place in Phila- 
delphia at the time appointed for the assembling of the 

^ r . . . of the so- 

convention. Before receiving notice that he was chosen ciety. 
a delegate, Washington had written a circular letter to the 
branches of the Society in the different States, declaring 
his intention to resign the presidency, and giving reasons 
why it would be inconvenient for him to attend the gen 
eral meeting. He thought himself thus placed in a deli 
cate situation. Were he to be present at the convention, 
the members of the Cincinnati Society might suppose they 
had just grounds for suspecting his sincerity, or even of 
charging him with having deserted the officers, who had 
so nobly supported him during the war, and always mani 
fested towards him uncommon respect and attachment. 
Having a grateful sense of their affection, and reciprocating 
in reality all their kind feelings, he was reluctant to put 
himself in a condition, by which their favorable senti 
ments would be altered, or their sensibility in any degree 

Again, some of his friends in various parts of the conn- HIS friends 
try expressed themselves doubtingly in their letters, as to propriety of 
the propriety of his going to the convention, and some thec 
advised against it. Many thought the scheme illegal, 
since there was no provision in the articles of the con 
federation for such a mode of revision, and it had not 
been proposed by Congress. It was feared, therefore, 
that the doings of the convention would end in a failure, 
and perhaps in the disgrace of the delegates. They, who 


CHAPTER were perplexed with apprehensions of this sort, were un- 
xv< willing that the brilliant reputation of Washington should 
1786. be p u t to the hazard of being tarnished by an abortive 
experiment, and believed the interests of the country re 
quired it to be held in reserve for a more fitting op 
obstacles re- These obstacles, formidable for a time, were at last re- 


moved. Congress took the subject into consideration, and 
recommended to the States to send delegates to the con 
vention for the purposes mentioned in the Annapolis re 
port. Thus the measure was sanctioned by law. Congress 
likewise appointed the second Monday in May, as the day 
for the delegates to assemble at Philadelphia. The time 
was fixed with reference to the meeting of the Cincinnati, 
which was to be a week earlier, whereby General Wash 
ington would be enabled to join his brethren of that fra 
ternity, should he think proper, and explain his motives 
for declining to be again elected president. 
He resolves After these proceedings, and after it was found that the 

to attend the 

convention, more enlightened part of the community very generally 
approved the scheme of the convention, his friends every 
where urged him to accept the appointment as one of the 
delegates from Virginia, and he acceded to their wishes. 
Another circumstance had much influence in bringing him 
to this decision. It began to be whispered, that the per 
sons opposed to the convention were at heart monarchists, 
and that they were glad to see the distractions of the 
country increasing, till the people should be weary of 
them, and discover their only hope of security to consist 
in a strong government as it was generally called, or, in 
other words, a constitutional monarchy ; for no one was 
ever supposed to dream of a despotic power in America. 
It has been said and believed, that a small party, in de 
spair of better things, actually meditated such a project, 
and turned their eyes to some of the royal families in 
Europe for a sovereign suited to control the jarring ele 
ments of republicanism in the United States. However 
this may be, it is certain that no imagined remedy could 


have been more severely reprobated by Washington. We CHAPTER 
have seen with what a stern rebuke the proposal to be a xv ' 
king was met by him, even when he literally had the 1787 
power of the nation in his hands. From the beginning 
of the revolution to the end of his life, he was an uncom 
promising advocate for a republican system. In the ab 
stract he regarded it as the best ; and he had faith enough 
in the virtue of the people, and in the efficacy of their 
former habits, to convince him that it might be success 
fully established. At all events he was for having the 
experiment thoroughly tried ; and his whole conduct proves, 
that, in regard to himself, he was ready to risk his repu 
tation, his property, and his life, if necessary, in a cause 
so momentous to the welfare of his country and to the 
social progress of mankind. 

He did not go to the convention unprepared for the 
great work there to be undertaken. His knowledge of 
the institutions of his own country and of its political 
forms, both in their general character and minute and 
affiliated relations, gained by inquiry and long experience, 
was probably as complete as that of any other man. But 
he was not satisfied with this alone. He read the history 
and examined the principles of the ancient and modern 
confederacies. There is a paper in his handwriting, which 
contains an abstract of each, and in which are noted in a 
methodical order, their chief characteristics, the kinds of 
authority they possessed, their modes of operation, and 
their defects. The confederacies analyzed in this paper 
are the Lycian, Amphictyonic, Achaean, Helvetic, Belgic, 
and Germanic. He also read the standard works on gen 
eral politics and the science of government, abridging parts 
of them, according to his usual practice, that he might 
impress the essential points more deeply on his mind. 
He was apprehensive, that the delegates might come to 
gether fettered with instructions, which would embarrass 
and retard, if not defeat, the salutary end proposed. 
" My wish is," said he, " that the convention may adopt 
no temporizing expedients, but probe the defects of the 
51 P2* 


CHAPTER constitution to the bottom, and provide a radical cure, 

XVt whether they are agreed to or not. A conduct of this 

1787. k ni( } w ju s tamp wisdom and dignity on their proceedings, 

and hold up a light, which sooner or later will have its 

influence." Such were the preparations, and such the 

sentiments, with which he went to the convention. 

Elected pres- His arrival at Philadelphia was attended with public 

con n ven f tion! honors. At Chester he was met by General MifHin, Speak- 
MayH. el of the Assembly of Pennsylvania, and several officers 
and gentlemen of distinction, who proceeded with him 
from that place. At Gray's Ferry a company of light- 
horse took charge of him and escorted him into the city. 
His first visit was to Dr. Franklin, at that time President 
of Pennsylvania. All the States were represented in the 
convention, except Rhode Island ; and, when the body 
was organized for business, General Washington was elect 
ed by a unanimous vote to the president's chair. The 
convention was in session four months, and the diligence 
of the members is proved by the fact, that they sat from 
five to seven hours a day. The result was the Constitu 
tion of the United States, which was proposed to be sub 
stituted (or the Articles of Confederation. On the 17th 
of September, 1787, the constitution was signed by all 
the members present, except three, and forwarded with a 
letter to Congress. By that assembly it was sent to the 
State legislatures, for the purpose of being submitted in 
each State to a convention of delegates chosen by the 
people, in conformity with a resolve of the general con 

constitution The constitution, as it came from the hands of its 

of the United ,, 111 n /. 

states. framers, was regarded by no one as theoretically perfect. 
To form a compact, which should unite thirteen indepen 
dent republics into a consolidated government possessing a 
control over the whole, was not a work of easy attain 
ment, even if there had been a uniformity in the pre 
viously established systems of the several States. The 
difficulty was increased by the wide differences in their 
situation, extent, habits, wealth, and particular interests. 


Rights and privileges were to be surrendered, not al- CHAPTER 
ways in proportion to the advantages which seemed to 
be promised as an equivalent. In short, the constitution 1787. 
was an amicable compromise, the result of mutual def 
erence and concession. Dr. Franklin said, in a short opinions of 

. ' Franklin and 

speech near the close ot the convention ; "I consent to Washington. 
this constitution, because I expect no better, and because 
I am not sure it is not the best. The opinions I have 
had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good." And 
Washington wrote not long afterwards ; " There are some 
things in the new form, I will readily acknowledge, which 
never did, and I am persuaded never will, obtain my 
cordial approbation ; but I did then conceive, arid do now 
most firmly believe, that in the aggregate it is the best 
constitution, that can be obtained at this epoch, and that 
this, or a dissolution, awaits our choice, and is the only 
alternative." Again ; " It appears to me little short of a 
miracle, that the delegates from so many States, different 
from each other in their manners, circumstances, and 
prejudices, should unite in forming a system of national 
government, so little liable to well-founded objections. Nor 
am I yet such an enthusiastic, partial, or undiscriminating 
admirer of it, as not to perceive it is tinctured with some 
real though not radical defects." 

Similar sentiments were doubtless entertained by all the constitution 

~ . , the best that 

prominent friends to the constitution. Faulty as it was, could then 
they looked upon it as the best that could be made, in 
the existing state of things, and as such they wished it 
to be fairly tried. It was moreover remarkable, that what 
one called a defect, another thought its most valuable 
part, so that in detail it was almost wholly condemned 
and approved. This was a proof, that there was nothing 
in it essentially bad, and that it approached very nearly 
to a just medium. If we judge from the tenor of Wash* 
ingtmi's letters, after it was sent out to the world, he 
wafched its fate with anxious solicitude, and was animated 
with joy at the favor it gradually gained with the public 
and its ultimate triumph. It was universally agreed, that 


CHAPTER his name affixed to the constitution carried with it a most 

xv ' , effective influence on the minds of the people. 

The legislatures of all the States, which had been rep- 
tionJof'the resente d m tne general convention, directed State conven- 
ado te tin for the ^ ons to De assembled, consisting of delegates chosen by 
con8titution. t k e people f or the express purpose of deciding on the 
adoption of the constitution. The ratification of nine 
States was necessary to give it validity and effect. The 
conventions in the several States met at different times, 
and it was nearly a year before the requisite number had 
passed a decision. In the mean time, both the friends 
and opponents of the constitution were extremely active. 
The weight of opinion, however, was found everywhere 
to preponderate on the side of the constitution. In some 
of the States it was adopted unanimously, and in nearly 
all of them the majority was much larger than its most 
zealous advocates had ventured to hope. Amendments 
were recommended in some instances, but in none was 
the ratification clogged by positive conditions of this sort. 
The same spirit of compromise and mutual concession 
seemed to prevail, that had -been manifested in the gener 
al convention. In fine, though the opposition was strong, 
and upheld by a few of the ablest and best men in the 
country, yet the popular voice was so decidedly express 
ed on the other side, as to afford the most encouraging 
presages of the successful operation of the new form of 

constitution Each State convention transmitted to Congress a testi- 
the requisite monial of its ratification, signed by all its members. When 

number of 

states. these testimonials had been received from the requisite 
number of States, an act was passed by Congress ap 
pointing a day for the people throughout the Union, to 
choose electors of a President of the United States, ac 
cording to the constitution, and another day for the electors 
to meet and vote for the person of their choice. The 
former election was to take place on the first Wednesday 
in February, 1789, and the latter on the first Wednesday 
in March following. 


It was no sooner ascertained, that the constitution would CHAPTER 
probably be adopted, than the eyes of the nation were XVt 
turned upon Washington, as the individual to be select- 1788. 
ed for that office, the highest, most honorable, and most The public 
responsible, that could be conferred by the suffrages of a upon wash- 
free people. His reluctance to being farther engaged in 
public life was well known, but every one knew also, 
that he never refused to obey the call of his country, or 
to make personal sacrifices for the public good. This was 
a ground of hope and of confidence. In him the whole 
people would be united. As to other candidates, there 
would be differences of opinion, rivalships, and, it was 
feared, unhappy divisions, that might mar the work so suc 
cessfully begun, and perhaps end in its overthrow and 
ruin. The interest felt in the subject, therefore, was in 
tense ; and at no period, even during the struggle of the 
revolution, was the strong support of Washington more ne 
cessary, than at this crisis. 

The public sentiment was too openly and loudly pro 
claimed to be concealed from him. Indeed those of his 
compatriots and associates, whose intimacy entitled them 
to use such a freedom, began early to prepare him for 
the result, by such arguments and advice, as they knew 
would be candidly considered, and be the best suited to 
act upon his mind. Some time before the election, in 
reply to a letter in which the subject had been brought 
pointedly before him by a gentleman, then a member of 
Congress, he wrote as follows. 

"Should the contingency you suggest take place, and 
should my unfeigned reluctance to accept the office be 

V i / i . i n public 

overcome by a deference to the reasons and opinions of we. 
my friends, might I not, after the declarations I have sept. a. 
made, (and Heaven knows they were made in the sin 
cerity of my heart), in the judgment of the impartial 
world and of posterity, be chargeable with levity and 
inconsistency, if not with rashness and ambition? Nay, 
farther, would there not be some apparent foundation for 
the two former charges? Now justice to myself and 



. 57. 

CHAPTER tranquillity of conscience require, that I should act a part, 
xv> if not above imputation, at least capable of vindication. 
1789, N or w iu y OU conceive me to be too solicitous for repu 
tation. Though I prize as I ought the good opinion of 
my fellow citizens, yet, if I know myself, I would not 
seek or retain popularity at the expense of one social duty 
or moral virtue. 

" While doing what my conscience informed me was 
right, as it respected my God, my country, and myself, 
I could despise all the party clamor and unjust censure, 
which might be expected from some, whose personal en 
mity might be occasioned by their hostility to the govern 
ment. I am conscious, that I fear alone to give any real 
occasion for obloquy, and that I do not dread to meet 
with unmerited reproach. And certain I am, whensoever 
I shall be convinced the good of my country requires 
my reputation to be put in risk, regard for my own fame 
will not come in competition with an object of so much 
magnitude. If I declined the task, it would lie upon 
quite another principle. Notwithstanding my advanced sea 
son of life, my increasing fondness for agricultural amuse 
ments, and my growing love of retirement, augment and 
confirm my decided predilection for the character of a 
private citizen, yet it would be no one of these motives, 
nor the hazard to which my former reputation might be 
exposed, nor the terror of encountering new fatigues and 
troubles, that would deter me from an acceptance ; but a 
belief, that some other person, who had less pretence, and 
less inclination to be excused, could execute all the duties 
full as satisfactorily as myself." 

chosen Suffice it to say, that his scruples yielded to the earnest 

president of .... . -,'.-. , 

the united solicitations of his friends, to mature reflection, and to 
the counsels of his unerring judgment. The day of elec 
tion came, and GEORGE WASHINGTON was chosen, by the 
unanimous vote of the electors, and probably without a 
dissenting voice in the whole nation, the first President 
of the United States. 


. 57.] 




He receives official Notice of being chosen President. His Journey to the 
Seat of Government at New York. His Oath of Office and Inaugural 
Speech. Acquaints himself with the State of public Affairs. His At 
tention to his private Pursuits. His Manner of receiving Visits and en 
tertaining Company. Afflicted with a severe Illness. Death of his 
Mother. Executive Departments formed, and the Officers appointed. 
Judiciary System organized. Washington's Opinion of the Supreme 
Court. His Rule in Appointments to Office. 

IT being known that the choice of the people had 
fallen on General Washington for President, he made 
preparations to begin the duties of the office as soon as 
his election should be notified to him by the proper au 
thority. The 4th of March was assigned as the day for 
the meeting of Congress, but a quorum did not come 
together till a month later. The votes of the electors 
were then opened and counted ; and a special messenger 
was despatched to Mount Vernon with a letter from the 
President of the Senate to General Washington, conveying 
official intelligence of his election. John Adams was at 
the same time declared to be chosen Vice-President of 
the United States. Two days after receiving the noti 
fication, Washington left home for New York, which was 
then the seat of Congress. 

His feelings on this occasion are indicated in the fol 
lowing extract from his Diary, written on the day of his 
departure. " About ten o'clock I bade adieu to Mount 
Yernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity ; and, with 
a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensa 
tions than I have words to express, set out for New 
York in company with Mr. Thomson and Colonel Hum 
phreys, with the best disposition to render service to my 
country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of 
answering its expectations." The whole journey was a 


Mount Ver 
non to enter 
upon his 
public du 

April 16. 

Journey to 
the seat of 



RT. 57. 

His public 
entry into 
New York. 

CHAPTER kind of triumphal procession. He had hardly left his own 
XVL house, when he was met by a company of gentlemen 

1789. from Alexandria, who proceeded with him to that town, 
where an entertainment was provided for him, and where 
he received and answered a public address. The people 
gathered to see him as he passed along the road. When 
he approached the several towns, the most respectable 
citizens came out to meet and welcome him ; he was 
escorted from place to place by companies of militia ; and 
in the principal cities his presence was announced by the 
firing of cannon, ringing of bells, and military display. 

A committee of Congress, consisting of three members 
of the Senate and five of the House of Representatives, 

April 23. was appointed to meet him in New Jersey and attend him 
to the city of New York. To Elizabethtown Point came 
many other persons of distinction, and the heads of the 
several departments of government. He was there re 
ceived in a barge, splendidly fitted up for the occasion, 
and rowed by thirteen pilots in white uniforms. This 
was followed by vessels and boats, fancifully decorated, 
and crowded with spectators. When the President's barge 
came near to the city, a salute of thirteen guns was fired 
from the vessels in the harbor, and from the Battery. At 
the landing he was again saluted by a discharge of ar 
tillery, and was joined by the governor and other officers 
of the State, and the corporation of the city. A proces 
sion was then formed, headed by a long military train, 
which was followed by the principal officers of the State 
and city, the clergy, foreign ministers, and a great con 
course of citizens. The procession advanced to the house 
prepared for the reception of the President. The day 
was passed in festivity and joy, and in the evening the 
city was brilliantly illuminated. 

The first public act of the President was that of tak 
ing the oath of office. It was decided by Congress, that 
this should be done with some ceremony. In the morn 
ing of the day appointed, April 30th, at nine o'clock, 
religious services suited to the occasion were performed 

Takes the 
oath of 

April SO. 


in all the churches of the city. At twelve the troops CHAPTER 
paraded before the President's door, and soon afterwards XVT 
came the committees of Congress and the heads of de- 1789. 
partments in carriages, to attend him to the Federal Hall, 
where the two houses of Congress were assembled. The 
procession moved forward with the troops in front, next 
the committees and heads of departments, then the Presi 
dent in a coach alone, followed by the foreign ministers, 
civil officers of the State, and citizens. Arrived at the 
Hall, he ascended to the senate-chamber, and passed 
thence to a balcony in front of the house, where the 
oath was administered to him in presence of the people 
by Chancellor Livingston. The President returned to the 
senate-chamber, in the midst of loud acclamations from 
the surrounding throng of spectators, and delivered to the 
two branches of Congress his Inaugural Speech. He 
then went on foot to St. Paul's Church, where prayers 
were read by the bishop, and the ceremonies were closed. 
Tokens of joy were everywhere exhibited, as on the day 
of his arrival, and at night there was a display of illu 
minations and fireworks. 

Under auspices thus favorable, Washington entered 
again upon the career of public life, surrounded and sus 
tained by the eminent leaders, who had acted with him 
in establishing the liberties of his country, and cheered 
with the conviction of having received the voluntary suf 
frage and possessing the good wishes of every American 
citizen. Yet he was aware, that the task he had under 
taken was one of no common responsibility or easy exe 
cution. The hopes and expectations of his countrymen, 
he knew, were in proportion to the unanimity with which 
they had crowned him with honors, and laid the burden 
of their public cares on his shoulders. A new system 
of government was to be put in action, upon which de 
pended the destiny of his country, and with the good 
or ill success of which his future reputation would be 

In his inaugural speech, after expressing his deep sense 

52 <*2 ralspeech ' 


CHAPTER of the magnitude of the trust confided to him, the strug- 
XVI< gles his mind had undergone in deciding to accept it, 
1789. ail( j a consciousness of his deficiencies, he added; " In 
this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver is, that it has 
been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just 
appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be 
affected. All I dare hope is, that, if in accepting this task 
I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance 
of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to 
this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow 
citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapaci 
ty, as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried 
cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives 
which misled me, and its consequences be judged by my 
country with some share of the partiality in which they 
originated." With these sentiments, and with fervent sup 
plications to the Almighty Being, whose guidance and 
overruling Providence he acknowledged in all the events 
of his life, he commenced the arduous duties of chief 
Refuses com- magistrate of the nation. In conformity with the rule to 
MS services, which he had hitherto adhered, he gave notice to Con 
gress, that he should accept no other compensation for 
his services, than such as would be necessary to defray 
the expenses of his household and other charges incident 
to his public station. 

Examines As the various departments of government under the 

of e the P heads new system could not be instituted, till Congress had 

of depart- J 

ments. passed laws for their organization and support, the busi 
ness belonging to these departments continued to be trans 
acted by the officers, who had previously been charged 
with it. Mr. Jay acted as secretary of foreign affairs, and 
General Knox as secretary of war. The treasury was 
under the control of a board of commissioners. The Pres 
ident requested from each of them an elaborate report, that 
he might become acquainted with the actual state of the 
government in all its foreign and domestic relations. 
These reports he read and condensed with his own hand, 
particularly that from the treasury board, till he made him- 

2Ex. 57.] L1FEOFWASHINGTON. 411 

self master of their contents. In regard to foreign affairs, CHAPTER 
he pursued a still more laborious process. With pen in 

hand he perused from beginning to end the official cor- 1789. 
respondence, deposited in the public archives, from the 
date of the treaty of peace at the termination of the war 
till the time he entered upon the Presidency. These vo 
luminous papers he abridged and studied, according to his 
usual practice, with the view of fixing in his mind every 
important point that had been discussed, as well as the 
history of what had been done. 

Among the private reasons, which had disinclined him HIS private 
to leave his retirement at Mount Vernon, were his grow 
ing attachment to agriculture, and his desire to pursue 
the system adopted for the cultivation of his farms. 
Since the war he had devoted himself with equal de 
light and constancy to this pursuit, and brought his plans 
into a train, which promised the most satisfactory results. 
He had procured from Europe the works of the best 
writers on the subject, which he read with diligence and 
reflection, drawing from them such scientific principles 
and practical hints, as he could advantageously use in 
improving his modes of agriculture. He was resolved to 
mature his designs, and in the intervals of public duties 
to bestow a part of his leisure upon that object. With 
his chief manager at Mount Vernon he left full and mi 
nute directions in writing, and exacted from him a week 
ly report, in which were registered the transactions of 
each day on all the farms, such as the number of labor 
ers employed, their health or sickness, the kind and 
quantity of work executed, the progress in planting, sow 
ing, or harvesting the fields, the appearance of the crops 
at various stages of their growth, the effects of the 
weather on them, and the condition of the horses, cattle, 
and other live stock. By these details he was made per 
fectly acquainted with all that was done, and could give 
his orders with almost as much precision as if he had 
been on the spot. 

Once a week regularly, and sometimes twice, he wrote 





to the man 
ager of his 

Rules for re 
ceiving and 

to the manager, remarking on his report of the preceding 
week, and adding new directions. These letters frequently 
extended to two or three sheets, and were always written 
with his own hand. Such was his laborious exactness, 
that the letter he sent away was usually transcribed from 
a rough draft. A press copy was taken of the transcript, 
which was carefully filed with the manager's report for 
his future inspection. In this habit he persevered with 
unabated diligence through the whole eight years of his 
Presidency, except during the short visits he occasionally 
made to Mount Vernon, at the close of the sessions of 
Congress, when his presence could be dispensed with at 
the seat of government. He moreover maintained a large 
correspondence on agriculture with gentlemen in Europe 
and America. His letters to Sir John Sinclair, Arthur 
Young, and Dr. Anderson, have been published, and are 
well known. Indeed his thoughts never seemed to flow 
more freely, nor his pen to move more easily, than when 
he was writing on agriculture, extolling it as a most at 
tractive pursuit, and describing the pleasure he derived 
from it and its superior claims not only on the practical 
economist, but on the statesman and philanthropist. 

The President had not been long in New York, before 
he found it necessary to establish rules for receiving vis- 
iters and entertaining company. There being no precedent 
to serve as a guide, this was an affair of considerable del 
icacy and difficulty. In the first place, it was essential 
to maintain the dignity of the office by such forms as 
would inspire deference and respect ; and, at the same 
time, the nature of republican institutions and the habits 
of the people required the chief magistrate to be accessible 
to every citizen on proper occasions and for reasonable 
purposes. A just line was therefore to be drawn between 
too much* pomp and ceremony on the one hand, and an 
extreme of familiarity on the other. Regard was also to 
be had to the President's time and convenience. After 
a short experiment of leaving the matter to the discretion 
of the public, it was proved, that without some fixed rule 


he would never have an hour at his disposal. From CHAPTER 
breakfast till dinner his door was besieged with persons XVL 
calling to pay their respects, or to consult him on af- 1789. 
fairs -of little moment. His sense of duty to the claims 
of his office, and to himself, convinced him that this prac 
tice could not be endured. The Vice-President, Mr. Jay, 
Mr. Madison, Mr. Hamilton, and other gentlemen, concur 
red in this opinion, and by their advice a different mode 
was adopted. 

Every Tuesday, between the hours of three and four, ceremoni- 

. , , u s and so- 

he was prepared to receive such persons as chose to call, ciai visits 
Foreign ministers, strangers of distinction, and citizens, 
came and went without ceremony. The hour was passed 
in free conversation on promiscuous topics, in which the 
President joined. Every Friday afternoon the rooms were 
open in like manner for visits to Mrs. Washington, which 
were on a still more sociable footing, and at which Gen 
eral Washington was always present. These assemblages 
were in the nature of public levees, and they did not 
preclude such visits of civility and friendship, between the 
President's family and others, as is customary in society. 
On affairs of business by appointment, whether with pub 
lic officers or private citizens, the President was always 
ready to bestow his time and attention. He accepted 
no invitations to dinner, but invited to his own table 
foreign ministers, officers of the government, and stran 
gers, in such numbers at once as his domestic establish 
ment would accommodate. On these occasions there was 
neither ostentation nor restraint, but the same simplicity 
and ease with which his guests had been entertained at 
Mount Vernon. 

No visits were received on Sundays. In the morning 
he uniformly attended church, and in the afternoon he 
retired to his private apartment. The evening was spent 
with his family, and then an intimate friend would some 
times call, but promiscuous company was not admitted.* 

* For an account of his religious opinions and habits, see APPEN 
DIX, No. IV. Also, Washington's Writings, Vol. XII. p. 399. 


CHAPTER Having laid down these general rules, which soon be 
came known to the public, he found relief from a heavy 

1789 - tax upon his time, and more leisure for a faithful discharge 
seized with of his duties. In the course of the summer, however, 

a dangerous 

illness. he was seized with a violent malady, which reduced him 
very low, and which for a few days was thought to en 
danger his life. He was confined six weeks to his bed, 
and it was more than twelve before his strength was 
restored. A constitution naturally strong, and the attend 
ance of Dr. Bard, a physician equally eminent for the 
excellence of his character and skill in his profession, 
enabled him to rise from an illness the most painful and 
trying that he had ever endured. From the effects of it 
he never entirely recovered. 

Death of his He had hardly gained strength to go abroad, when he 
heard of the death of his mother, who died in August, 
at the age of eighty-two. Writing to his sister on this 
occasion he said ; " Awful and affecting as tae death of 
a parent is, there is consolation in knowing, that Heaven 
has spared ours to an age beyond which few attain, and 
favored her with the full enjoyment of her mental facul 
ties, and as much bodily strength as usually falls to the 
lot of fourscore. Under these considerations, and a hope 
that she is translated to a happier place, it is the duty 
of her relatives to yield due submission to the decrees of 
the Creator." A short time before he left Mount Vernon 
for New York, he made a visit to his mother at Fred- 
ericksburg, the place of her residence. She was then 
sinking under a disease, which he foresaw would prove 
fatal ; and he took an affecting and final leave of her, 
convinced he should never see her again. She had been 
a widow forty-six years. Through life she was remarkable 
for vigor of mind and body, simplicity of manners, and 
uprightness of character. She must have felt a mother's 
joy at the success and renown of her son, but they 
caused no change in her deportment or style of living. 
Whenever he visited her at her dwelling, even in the 
height of his greatness, he literally returned to the scenes 


and domestic habits of his boyhood. Neither pride nor CHAPTER 
vanity mingled with the feelings excited by the atten- XVL 
dons she received as the mother of Washington. She 1789. 
listened to his praises and was silent, or added only that 
he had been a good son, and she believed he had done 
his duty as a man. 

As soon as he was established in his office, Washington Economy of 
introduced strict habits of economy into his household, hold, 
which were preserved without essential change to the end 
of his public life. The whole was under the care of a 
steward, to whom he gave general directions. All other 
persons connected with the establishment were accountable 
to the steward, but each of them was required to keep 
an exact record of the purchases and expenditures made 
by him, specifying every particular. These accounts, with 
tradesmen's bills and other vouchers, were presented once 
a week to Washington, who inspected them minutely, and 
certified with his own signature that they were approved. 
By this method he was enabled to ascertain at any mo 
ment the precise state of his pecuniary affairs, and to 
guard against extravagance and waste. He might say 
with Seneca ; " I keep an account of my expenses ; I 
cannot affirm that I lose nothing, but I can tell you what 
I lose, and why, and in what manner." The salary of 
the President, as fixed by law, was twenty-five thousand 
dollars a year. But with the most rigid economy his 
expenses were seldom within this limit, and he was of 
course obliged to draw on his private fortune to make up 
the deficiency. 

Congress continued in session till near the end of Sep- proceedings 
tember, when they adjourned for three months. They c 
had been mostly occupied in passing laws for the organi 
zation of government, the administration of justice, and the 
raising of a revenue. Mercantile regulations were estab 
lished, imposing duties on tonnage and imported goods. 
Amendments to the constitution were framed, and recom 
mended to the States for adoption. Three executive de- Executive 
partments were formed, at the head of each of which was 



. 57. 

CHAPTER to be a secretary, namely, the departments of foreign af- 

XVL fairs, of the treasury, and of war. The first was after- 

1789. war ds called the department of state, and included both 

foreign and domestic affairs. So large a portion of the 

administration of government is effected by the executives 

of the several States, that a separate department for inter 

nal affairs was not thought necessary. The navy too 

was at this time so small, as not to require a distinct de 

partment. It was mainly in the charge of the secretary 

of war. 

secretarie^ ^^ e requisite laws being passed, it next devolved on 

tive depart- the President to select proper persons to fill the several 
offices. In regard to the executive departments, this was 
of very great importance, inasmuch as the secretaries were 
not only to discharge the duties assigned to them by the 
constitution and laws, but were to be his cabinet, or 
council of state. On the wisdom of his choice, therefore, 
would in a great degree depend the character and suc 
cess of his administration. So much time had elapsed in 
the session of congress, that he had been able to take a 
full survey of the subject, and to decide with deliberation. 

Jefferson. Long experience in public affairs, a high political stand 

ing, and acknowledged talents, pointed out Thomas Jeffer 
son as eminently qualified for the state department. He 
was about to return from France, where he had filled the 
office of minister plenipotentiary, as successor to Dr. 
Franklin, with much credit to himself and his coun- 

Hamiiton. try. Alexander Hamilton was appointed to the head of 
, the treasury. His transcendent abilities, integrity, firm 
ness, and patriotism were well known to Washington, 
after a thorough trial and familiar acquaintance in the 
revolution ; and they were scarcely less known or less 
appreciated by his countrymen at large. In the conven 
tion, Hamilton disapproved and opposed some of the prin 
cipal articles of the constitution ; and the more praisfc is 
due to him, that, after it was carried by a majority, and 
was proved to be the best that could be hoped for in the 
circumstances of the times, he gave up his predilections, 


joined heartily with its friends, and put into their scale CHAPTER 
the whole weight of his great powers of eloquence and XVL 
argument, both in debate and by the use of his pen. 1789. 
Henry Knox was continued secretary of war, which sta- Knox. 
tion he had held under the confederation. As an officer, 
a man, and a friend, he was esteemed by Washington ; 
and his steady principles and public services had gained 
for him a general confidence. The post of attorney- Randolph, 
general was conferred on Edmund Randolph, a gentleman 
distinguished by success in his profession at the bar, and 
by having been governor of Virginia, and a conspicuous 
member of the convention that framed the constitution. 
Such were the heads of the executive departments, and 
such the composition of the council, on which the Presi 
dent was mainly to rely for advice and support. 

For administering justice, in the execution of the laws washing- 
for national purposes, the constitution had provided, that of 

_ , , prerae court. 

there should be a supreme court, and such inferior courts 
as Congress should establish. In organizing the judiciary 
system, it was decided that the supreme court should con 
sist of a chief justice and five associate justices, and that 
there should be district courts, with one judge in each 
State. An associate justice and a district judge consti 
tuted a circuit court. Washington's opinion of the im 
portance of the supreme court is forcibly described in his 
own language. " Impressed with a conviction," said he, 
" that the due administration of justice is the firmest pillar 
of good government, I have considered the first arrange 
ment of the judicial department as essential to the hap 
piness of the country, and to the stability of its political 
system. Hence the selection of the fittest characters to 
expound the laws, and dispense justice, has been an in 
variable object of my anxious concern." And again, in 
giving notice to Mr. Jay of his appointment as chief jus 
tice ; "I have a full confidence that the love which you 
bear to our country, and a desire to promote the general 
happiness, will not suffer you to hesitate a moment to 
bring into action the talents, knowledge, and integrity, 


CHAPTER which are so necessary to be exercised at the head of that 
XVL department, which must be considered the keystone of 
1789. our political fabric." 

a h oin?ed These views of the judiciary department, as forming a 
chief justice. mO st essential branch of the government, and as claiming 
the highest consideration, he always entertained ; and in 
the appointment of justices, and judges of the district 
courts, he was extremely solicitous to secure the services 
of those, who were eminent for judicial knowledge, talents, 
personal worth, and experience. In placing John Jay at 
the head of the supreme court, he consulted alike the 
public good, the dignity of the court, and his own feel 
ings. No man in the nation possessed a larger share of 
confidence, whether in regard to his ability or his legal 
attainments ; none was more valued for the services he 
had rendered to his country, none more esteemed for his 
private virtues. The choice of his associates was also 
fortunate, and the court assumed a respectability and 
weight suited to the rank conferred upon it by the con 

Rules follow- No part of the President's duties gave him more anxie- 
tngton tiT " ty. than that of distributing the offices in his gift. Ap- 
memsto plications innumerable flowed in upon him even before 

office. - 

he left Mount Vernon, many of them from his personal 
friends, and others supported by the recommendations of 
his friends ; nor did they cease as long as any vacancies 
remained. He early prescribed to himself a rule, howev 
er, from which he never swerved, which was to give no 
pledges or encouragement to any applicant. He answered 
them all civilly, but avowed his determination to suspend 
a decision till the time of making the appointments should 
arrive, and then, without favor or bias, to select such 
individuals as in his judgment were best qualified to exe 
cute with faithfulness and ability the trust reposed in 
them. His sentiments and motives are well explained ia 
a letter written to a gentleman, who had solicited an 
office for another person. 

" From the moment when the necessity had become 


more apparent," said he, " and as it were inevitable, I an- CHAPTER 
ticipated, with a heart filled with distress, the ten thou- XVI * 
sand embarrassments, perplexities, and troubles, to which 1789. 
I must again be exposed in the evening of a life already Numerous 
nearly consumed in public cares. Among all these anx- for office, 
ieties, I will not conceal from you, I anticipated none 
greater, than those that were likely to be produced by 
applications for appointments to the different offices, which 
would be created under the new government. Nor will I 
conceal, that my apprehensions have already been but too 
well justified. Scarcely a day passes, in which applica 
tions of one kind or another do not arrive ; insomuch 
that, had I not early adopted some general principles, I 
should before this time have been wholly occupied in this 
business. As it is, I have found the number of answers, 
which I have been necessitated to give in my own hand, 
an almost insupportable burden to me. 

" The points in which all these answers have agreed Three things 

to be re 
in substance are, that, should it be my lot to go aeain garded in ap 

into public office, I would go without being under any 
possible engagements of any nature whatsoever ; that, so 
far as I knew my own heart, I would not be in the re 
motest degree influenced, in making nominations, by mo 
tives arising from the ties of family or blood ; and that, 
on the other hand, three things, in my opinion, ought 
principally to be regarded, namely, the fitness of charac 
ters to fill offices, the comparative claims from the former 
merits and sufferings in service of the different candidates, 
and the distribution of appointments in as equal a propor 
tion as might be to persons belonging to the different 
States in the Union. Without precautions of this kind, 
I clearly foresaw the endless jealousies, and possibly the 
fatal consequences, to which a government, depending 
altogether on the good-will of/ the people for its estab 
lishment, would certainly be exposed in its early stages. 
Besides, I thought, whatever the effect might be in pleas 
ing or displeasing any individuals at the present moment, 
a due concern for my own reputation, not less decisively 



[Mr. 57 

CHAPTER than a sacred regard to the interests of the community, 

XVL required, that I should hold myself absolutely at liberty 

1789. to act, while in office, with a sole reference to justice and 

the public good." 
HIS declare- In practice he verified these declarations, acting in every 

tions verified / i i i i / i 

in practice, case with perfect independence, looking first to the na 
tional interests, and next to the best means of promoting 
them, and admitting no other ground of preference be 
tween candidates, whose pretensions were in other re 
spects equal, than that of former efforts or sacrifices in 
serving their country. 

. 57] 




His Journey through the Eastern States. Letter from Mrs. Washington. 

System of Funding the public Debts. Place for the permanent Seat 
of Government agreed upcn. The President visits Rhode Island and 
Mount Vernon. Foreign Relations of the United States. France, Eng 
land, Spain. Indian War. Washington's Policy respecting the In 
dians. Congress meets at Philadelphia. A National Bank established. 

Tax on distilled Spirits. The President's Tour through the Southern 
States. Apportionment Bill. Parties and their Causes. Dissensions 
between the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury. 
Washington's Attempts to reconcile them. 

FOR some time it had been the President's intention in 
the recess of Congress to make a tour through the eastern 
States, as well for the reestablishment of his health, as 
for observing the condition of the people, and the gen 
eral disposition in regard to the new form of government. 
He anticipated pleasure also in reviewing the scenes of 
his first military compaign as Commander-in-chief, and in 
meeting the associates, who had contributed to lessen his 
toils and invigorate his spirit in times of peril and de 
spondency. About the middle of October he left New 
York, accompanied by his two secretaries, Mr. Lear and 
Mr. Jackson, and he was absent a month. He travelled 
in his own carriage, and proceeded by way of New Ha 
ven, Hartford, Worcester, Boston, Salem, and Newbury- 
port, as far as Portsmouth in New Hampshire. He 
returned by a different route through the interior of the 
country to Hartford, and thence to New York. 

Such was the enthusiasm, which was now felt by all 
classes of the community in regard to Washington, an 
enthusiasm inspired by his virtues and his fame, that it 
was impossible for him to move in any direction, with 
out drawing around him thousands of spectators, eager to 
gratify their eyes with a sight of his person, to greet him 
with acclamations of joy, and to exhibit testimonies of 


Makes a tour 
through the 


with enthu 
siasm by the 



. 57. 


CHAPTER their respect and veneration. Men, women, and children, 
m ' people of all ranks, ages, and occupations, assembled from 
far and near at the crossings of the roads and other pub 
lic places, where it was known he would pass. Military 
escorts attended him on the way, and at the principal 
towns lie was received and entertained by the civil au 
thorities. Addresses were as usual presented to him by 
corporate bodies, religious societies, and literary institu 
tions, to which he returned appropriate answers. 

This journey was in all respects satisfactory to him, 
not more as furnishing proofs of the strong attachment of 
the people, than as convincing him of the growing pros 
perity of the country, arid of the favor which the constitu 
tion and the administration of government were gaining 
in the public mind. He was happy to see, that the ef 
fects of the war had almost disappeared, that agriculture 
was pursued with activity, that the harvests were abun 
dant, manufactures increasing, the towns flourishing, and 
commerce becoming daily more extended and profitable. 
The condition of society, the progress of improvements, 
the success of industrious enterprise, all gave tokens of 
order, peace, and contentment, and a most cheering prom 
ise for the future.* 

* The reader cannot fail to be interested in this place with an ex 
tract from a letter written by Mrs. Washington to Mrs. Warren, soon 
after the President's return from his tour. So little remains, which is 
known to have come from the pen of this lady, that it would be an act 
of injustice to her memory to withhold a specimen so creditable to her 
understanding, her heart, and her views of life, as the following, which 
is transcribed from the original. 

" Your very friendly letter of last month has afforded much more sat 
isfaction, than all the formal compliments and empty ceremonies of 
mere etiquette could possibly have done. I am not apt to forget the 
feelings, which have been inspired by my former society with good 
acquaintances, nor to be insensible to their expressions of gratitude to 
the President ; for you know 'me well enough to do me the justice to 
believe, that I am fond only of what comes from the heart. Under a 
conviction, that the demonstratidns of respect and affection to him orig 
inate in that source, I cannot deny, that I have taken some interest 
and pleasure in them. The difficulties, which presented themselves to 

Er. 57.] , LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 423 

The time for the adjournment of Congress having ex- CHAPTER 

pired, the two houses reassembled in the first week of XVII '__ 

January. The President met them in the senate-chamber, 1789. 

and delivered his speech at the opening of the session. Measures 

* . , . ,. . . . . recommend- 

Such was the custom during Washington's administration ; ed to con- 
but it was afterwards changed, and the President commu 
nicated with Congress only by written messages. This 
was likewise Washington's practice, except at the begin 
ning of a session, when he addressed the two houses in 
person. These addresses were called speeches, and other 
communications were designated as messages. At this 
time, after congratulating Congress on the prosperous con 
dition of the country, and the favor with which their 
previous doings had been received, he recommended sev 
eral subjects as claiming their attention, particularly a 
provision for the common defence ; laws for naturalizing 
foreigners ; a uniformity in the currency, weights, and 

view on his first entering upon the Presidency, seem thus to be in 
some measure surmounted. It is owing to the kindness of our numer 
ous friends in all quarters, that my new and unwished-for situation is 
not indeed a burden to me. When 1 was much younger, I should 
probably have enjoyed the innocent gayeties of life as much as mos* 
persons of my age ; but I had long since placed all the prospects of 
my future worldly happiness in the still enjoyments of the fireside at 
Mount Vernon. 

" I little thought, when the war was finished, that any circumstances 
could possibly happen, which would call the General into public life 
again. I had anticipated, that from that moment we should be suffered 
to grow old together in solitude and tranquillity. That was the first 
and dearest wish of my heart I will not, however, contemplate with 
too much regret disappointments, that were inevitable, though his feel 
ings and my own were in perfect unison with respect to our predi 
lection for private life. Yet I cannot blame him for having acted ac 
cording to his ideas of duty in obeying the voice of his country. The 
consciousness of having attempted to do all the good in his power, 
and the pleasure of finding his fellow citizens so well satisfied with 
the disinterestedness of his conduct, will doubtless be some compen 
sation for the great sacrifices, which I know he has made. Indeed, 
on his journey from Mount Vernon to this place, in his late tour through 
the Eastern States, by every public and every private information which 
has come to him, I am persuaded he has experienced nothing to make 





?tii?i ^ 

c r credi? ub ~ m deed 

CHAPTER measures ; the encouragement of agriculture, commerce, 
xvn - and manufactures ; the promotion of science and literature ; 
an( j an effective system for the support of public credit.. 
^ tne difficulties involved in this last subject may 
traced the primary causes of the constitution, 
and it had already attracted the notice of the national 
legislature. The former session had necessarily been con 
sumed in framing laws for putting the new government 
in operation ; but, a few days before its close, a resolution 
was passed by the House of Representatives, in which it 
was declared that an adequate provision for the support 
of public credit was essential to the national honor and 
prosperity, and the Secretary of the Treasury was directed 
to prepare a plan for the purpose, and report it to the 
House at the next session. The national debt* had its 
origin chiefly in the Revolution. . It was of two kinds, 
foreign arid domestic. The foreign debt amounted to 

him repent his having acted from what he conceived to be a sense of 
indispensable duty. On the contrary, all his sensibility has been awak 
ened in receiving such repeated and unequivocal proofs of sincere 
regard from his countrymen. 

"With respect to myself, I sometimes think the arrangement is not 
quite as it ought to have been, that I, who had much rather be at 
home, should occupy a place, with which a great many younger and 
gayer women would be extremely pleased. As my grandchildren and 
domestic connexions make up a great portion of the felicity, which 1 
looked for in this world, I shall hardly be able to find any substitute, 
that will indemnify me for the loss of a part of such endearing society. 
I do not say this because I feel dissatisfied with my present station, 
for everybody and every thing conspire to make me as contented as 
possible in it; yet I have learned too much of the vanity of human 
affairs to expect felicity from the scenes of public life. I am still de 
termined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be ; 
for I have also learned from experience, that the greater part of our 
happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our cir 
cumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with 
us in our minds wherever we go. 

"I have two of my grandchildren with me, who enjoy advantages 
in point of education, and who, I trust, by the goodness of Providence, 
will be a great blessing to me. My other two grandchildren are with 
their mother in Virginia." New York, December 26f/i, 1789. 


nearly twelve millions of dollars, and was due to France, CHAPTER 
the Hollanders, and a very small part to Spain. The XVI1> 
domestic debt, due to individuals in the United States for 1789. 
loans to the government and supplies furnished to the Foreign and 
army, was about forty-two millions. These debts had debts! ' 
been contracted by Congress, and were acknowledged to 
be a national charge. There was another description of 
debts, amounting by estimate to about twenty-five millions 
of dollars, which rested on a different footing. The States 
individually had constructed works of defence within their 
respective limits, advanced pay and bounties to Continental 
troops and militia, arid supplied provisions, clothing, and 
munitions of war. The secretary proposed, that all the 
domestic debts, including those of the particular States, 
should be funded, and that the nation should become 
responsible for their payment to the full amount. 

The report was able,* perspicuous, and comprehensive, Hamiiton'a 
embracing a complete view of the subject, and containing Funding the 
arguments of great cogency in support of the plan sug- debt, 
gested. As to the foreign debt, there was no question 
in the mind of any one, that it ought to be discharged 
according to the strict letter of the contracts, but in re 
gard to the domestic debts a difference of opinion pre 
vailed. The secretary endeavored to prove, that no dis 
tinction should be admitted, that the expenditures had all 
been made for national objects, and that in equity the 
public faith was solemnly pledged for their reimbursement. 
The obligation was increased by their being " the price 
of liberty," without which the nation itself could never 
have attained an independent existence. He argued that 
the policy of the measure was not less obvious than its 
t justice, that public credit was essential to the support of 
government under any form, and that this could be main 
tained only by good faith in all transactions, and by hon 
orably fulfilling engagements. Who would confide in a 
government, that had refused to pay its debts, or re 
spect a nation that had shown a disregard to the prin- 
54 R<2* 


CHAPTER ciples, which constitute the cement of every well ordered 
community ? 

When the report was considered in Congress, it gave 
r * se to warm an d protracted debates. The opponents of " 
the secretary's plan were not without plausible reasons. 
As to the debt contracted by Congress, it was said that 
the usual maxims could not properly be applied. The 
evidences of this debt consisted in a paper currency and 
certificates, which, as there was no gold or silver, the 
creditors were from the necessity of the case obliged to 
take. This paper had in most cases passed through many 
hands, and was immensely depreciated below its nominal 
value. The original creditors, therefore, and the subse 
quent holders, had lost in proportion to the scale of de 
preciation. Hence the proposal to assume the whole debt, 
as it stood on the face of the paper, and pay it to the 
present holders, was said to be inequitable, inasmuch as 
these had purchased it at the depreciated value, and had 
no claim to be remunerated for the losses of the previous 

Madison's Mr. Madison proposed a discrimination, by which the 

purchasers should be paid a certain portion, and the origi 
nal holders the remainder. This was objected to as un 
just and impracticable. By the form and tenor of the 
certificates, the debt was made payable to the original 
creditor or bearer. On these terms they had been sold, 
and the sellers had relinquished all their claims to the 
purchasers for what was deemed an equivalent. When 
the transfers were 4 made, it was understood by both par 
ties to be on this principle, and the purchaser took the 
risk of eventual payment. It was clear, also, that it 
would be impossible to make the discrimination, except to 
a limited extent and in a partial manner, since the nu 
merous transfers of the original creditors could not be as 
certained and examined ; and even at best no provision 
was offered for the losses of the intermediate holders by 
the gradual depreciation. After a long debate in the 
House of Representatives this scheme was rejected. 


Next came up the State debts ; and the proposition to CHAPTER 

assume them created still greater divisions and heats in XVIL 

Congress, and much excitement abroad. It brought into 1790. 

action all the local prejudices and high-toned doctrines of Debts of the 


State rights and State sovereignty, which had been so states 
heavy a stumblingblock in the way of union and con 
cord from the beginning of the Revolution. The debts 
of the respective States were very unequal in amount. 
This led to an investigation of the services rendered by 
each, and to invidious comparisons. The project was op 
posed as unconstitutional and unjust. Congress, it was 
said, had no power to take this burden upon the nation. 
Such an assumption of power was moreover an encroach 
ment upon the sovereignty of the States, tending to di 
minish their importance, and lead to a consolidation de 
structive of the republican system. Each State was re 
sponsible for the debts it had contracted, and there was 
no reason for taxing those States, which owed little, to 
pay a portion of the large debt of others. 

It was argued in reply, that, as the expenditures had Reasons for 

^ J ' funding the 

all been lor the common cause of the nation, they came state debts, 
strictly within the legitimate control of Congress ; and 
also, as the constitution had transferred to the national 
legislature the entire power of raising funds from duties 
on imports and the sales of public lands, the principal 
sources of revenue, it was just that the debts should be 
paid out of these funds. The States could pay them 
only by excise duties, or direct taxes, which would be 
odious to the people and difficult to collect. In'any event 
there must be long delays, and much uncertainty as to 
the result. The creditors had a right to claim more 
prompt payment, and better security from the nation. 

At last the secretary's plan for funding all the domes- Funding sys- 
tic debts was carried by a small majority in both houses 
of Congress. In regard to the State debts, however, the 
original proposition was modified. The specific sum of 
twenty-one millions and a half of dollars was assumed, 
and apportioned among the States in a proximate ratio to 



[Mr. 58. 


of the fund- 

OHAPTER the amount of the debts of each. An act was passed by 
XVIL which the whole of the domestic debt became a loan to 
the nation. It was made redeemable at various times, and 
at various rates of interest. 

One of the principal arguments for funding the debt, 

ing system. j n addition to that of its equity, was the advantage that 
would be derived from it as an active capital for imme 
diate use. Sustained by the credit of the nation, bearing 
interest and redeemable at certain times, the paper securi 
ties of the government would have a permanent value in 
the market, and thus be a spur to enterprise, and increase 
the prosperity of the country in its agriculture, manufac 
tures, and commerce. All that was anticipated from the 
funding system, in these respects, was realized. Political 
ly considered, however, it had an unhappy influence. It 
widened the breach of parties, produced irritations, and 
excited animosities. Nor was it to be expected that the 
adversaries of the plan, and these a large minority, would 
readily change their opinion after the strenuous opposition 
they had shown, or cease from their hostility. The Presi 
dent expressed no sentiments on the subject while it was 
under debate in Congress, but he approved the act for 
funding the public debt, and was undoubtedly, from con 
viction, a decided friend to the measure. 

Another important point, upon which Congress under 
the old Confederation had been for a long time divided, 
was settled in the course of this session. Local interests, 
and other considerations, made it difficult to agree on the 
place for the permanent seat of government. It was at 
length determined, that it should be removed for ten 
years to Philadelphia, and then be established at some 
place on the Potomac River. Ultimately the position was 
selected, which has since been called the District of Co 
lumbia ; and the territory was surveyed, the city planned, 
and the public buildings commenced under the direction 
of Washington, this duty devolving on him as President. 
For three or four years it occupied a great deal of his 
attention ; and, in compliance with the laws, he appointed 

District of 


Jfrr. 58.] LIFE OF WASHINGTON. 429 

commissioners for managing the business, with whom he CHAPTER 

carried on a voluminous correspondence, giving personal XVJI ' 

directions, and requiring exact accounts of all proceed- 179 

Rhode Island having adopted the constitution, and ac- president 

_. . , -. . . , visits Rhode 

ceded to the Union, the President made a visit to that island. 
State immediately after the session of Congress. In his 
eastern tour he had avoided going to Rhode Island, be 
cause it had not then joined the Union under the new 

Another severe disease, and constant application to busi- visits Mount 
ness, had much impaired his health ; and he determined 
to take advantage of the recess of Congress, throw off for September. 
a brief space the burden of public cares, and seek repose 
and recreation in his own quiet home at Mount Vernon. 
He always returned to that spot with delight ; and it 
was now doubly dear to him, as it promised rest from 
labor, refreshment to his weary spirit and debilitated body, 
and a few days of leisure to ride over his farms, view 
his gardens, orchards, and fields, and observe the progress 
of his agricultural operations. 

The foreign relations of the United States, at the be- Foreign reia- 

f . T i tions of the 

ginning 01 the new government, though not complicated, united 
were nevertheless in an unsettled condition. With France 
there was a good understanding, the treaties of alliance 
and commerce having been scrupulously fulfilled on both 
sides. The revolutionary disorders, however, soon broke 
out, and produced disagreements, alienation, and trouble. 

With Morocco a sort of informal treaty existed, and Morocco. 
Washington wrote two letters to the Emperor, who had 
received American vessels into his ports, and promised his 
aid to conciliate the Barbary powers. This promise was 
unavailing. The Algerines had seized vessels belonging 
to citizens of the United States, and held the officers and 
sailors in bondage for several years. 

The government stood in a more delicate relation to England. 
England, than to any other power. The old feuds and 
bitter feelings of the war subsided slowly. All attempts 

430 LIFE OF WASHINGTON. [jE-r. 58. 

CHAPTER to bring about a treaty of commerce between the two 
countries had failed. The British cabinet, probably dis 
trusting the stability of the Union under the old Confed 
eration, had shown no disposition to enter into a treaty 
of this sort, and had never sent a minister to the United 
States. The military posts on the frontiers had not been 
given up, as was stipulated in the treaty of peace. The 
reason assigned, that some of the States had refused to 
pay the debts due to British subjects, which they were 
likewise bound to do by the treaty, was plausible, and 
perhaps well founded. Congress had but a limited power 
to enforce a compliance with treaties ; and it was natural 
in such a case, that other nations should be tardy in 
making them. This state of things being altered by the 
constitution, President Washington thought it desirable to 
ascertain the views and intentions of the British govern 
ment, in regard to complying with the treaty of peace, 
and to future intercourse. To attain this end he com 
missioned Gouverneur Morris as a private agent to hold 
conversations with the British ministers, deeming it of 
great importance, as he said, that errors should be avoid 
ed in the system of policy respecting Great Britain. 
Spain. Affairs with Spain were yet more unpromising. At 

the outset of the Revolution, his Catholic Majesty, yield 
ing to the solicitations of Prance, seemed to abet the 
American cause ; but he soon changed his mind, refused 
to join with France in acknowledging the independence 
of the United States, even when he declared war against 
England, and gave his sanction to the treaty of peace 
with no good will. He feared the effect, and not with 
out reason, which the example of the northern republicans 
might have upon his colonies in South America. A ne 
gotiation had been going on, tedious as it was unprofit 
able, down to the time of Washington's election to the 
Presidency, but no apparent progress had been made. 
The Floridas and Louisiana belonged to Spain. The 
navigation of the Mississippi was the great point of con 
troversy. This was essential to the settlers in the West, 


and was becoming every day more and more so on ac- CHAPTER 
count of the rapid increase of the population. Spain XVIL 
persisted in withholding all rights and privileges in that 1790. 
navigation from citizens of the United States. There were 
various grounds of policy for this refusal, but probably 
the most operative was a secret hope, that the western 
inhabitants, weary of these obstacles to their commerce, 
and dissatisfied with the national government for not re 
moving them, might sooner or later dissever themselves 
from the Union, and form a separate republic, which 
would easily fall under the control of Spain. 

Other circumstances, growing: out of the relations with Foreign 

. . . influence 

England and Spam, were extremely injurious to the in- operating 
terests of the country. During the war, the Indians on 
the borders of the United States had almost everywhere 
been allied with the enemy. When peace came, it found 
them in the attitude of hostility, their savage spirit roused, 
and their vindictive tempers eager for slaughter and re 
venge; and the United States were left to appease and 
conciliate them as they could. In any case this would 
have been an arduous task, but the difficulty was soon 
perceived to be increased by a foreign influence, keeping 
alive their enmity, and stimulating them to acts of out 
rage. British agents and traders on the northern frontier 
furnished the Indians with arms, ammunition, and clothing. 
In Florida the Spaniards tampered with the Creeks and 
other Southern Indians, and kept them at variance with 
their white neighbors. These acts were not acknowledg 
ed, possibly not authorized, by the English and Spanish 
governments, but they were certainly not restrained, and 
they were repeated long after full representations had 
been made. 

The effect was a protracted and expensive war. Wash- 
ington's policy in regard to the Indians was always pa- 
cific and humane. He considered them as children, who 
should be treated with tenderness and forbearance. He 
aimed to conciliate them by good usage, to obtain their 
lands by fair purchase and punctual payments, to make 



. 58. 


assemble at 

December 6. 


treaties with them on terms of equity and reciprocal ad 
vantage, and strictly to redeem every pledge. In these 
respects he looked upon the Indian tribes as holding the 
same rank and the same rights as civilized nations. But 
their faithlessness, ravages, and murders were not to be 
tolerated, from whatever causes they arose. After failing 
in every attempt at a pacification, he was convinced that 
war was the only alternative. It continued four or five 
years, with many vicissitudes of misfortune and disaster, 
the defeats of Harmar and St. Clair, unsuccessful cam 
paigns, and much waste of blood and treasure, till Gen 
eral Wayne put an end to it, first by a battle, and then 
by a treaty of peace. This war lasted through a large 
part of Washington's administration. It was a source of 
regret and pain to him, on account both of its cause, the 
necessity of subduing by force the turbulence of an igno 
rant and deluded race of men, and of the heavy charge 
it imposed on the nation for maintaining an army. 

Congress commenced their third session at Philadelphia, 
and the President returned from Mount Vernon to that 
city, where he afterwards resided till the term of his of 
fice expired. The debates of this session were scarcely 
less vehement, or less deeply tinged with party antipathies, 
than those of the preceding. Two important measures 
were brought forward, discussed, and adopted ; a na 
tional bank, and a tax on ardent spirits distilled in the 
United States. 

The Secretary of the Treasury had previously recom 
mended a national bank, as of great utility in administer 
ing the finances of the country, and facilitating the oper 
ations for the support of public credit. He now called 
the attention of Congress to the subject by a special re 
port, in which his views were explained with the same 
perspicuity and vigor of argument, which marked every 
thing that came from his pen. The project met with a 
strong opposition. It was attacked chiefly on the ground 
of its being unconstitutional. Much was said of the ex 
press, incidental, and implied powers conferred on Con- 


gress by the constitution ; and it was averred, that none CHAPTER 
of these, nor all of them together, authorized the incor- XVI1 ' 
porating of a bank. Its policy was questioned, and the 1791. 
utility of banking systems denied. To this it was answer 
ed, that such incidental powers must necessarily belong 
to every form of government, as will enable it to carry 
into effect the positive and vested powers, and to employ 
all the usual means for that purpose ; and that a construc 
tion of the constitution according to this fundamental 
principle fairly included the means afforded by a bank, 
to which almost all commercial nations had resorted, 
and the advantages of which had been proved by long 

The arguments were somewhat metaphysical and at 
tenuated on both sides ; and indeed the attempt to define 
what is intended or implied by a written instrument, on 
points about which it says nothing, must naturally lead 
to abstractions little suited to enlighten or convince. No 
other rule of interpretation would seem to be applicable 
in practice, than that a proposed measure shall contribute 
to the public good, and not contravene any express power. 
The contest ended in the establishment of a bank, with 
a capital of ten millions of dollars, of which eight millions 
were to be held by individuals, and the residue by the 

On this subject the cabinet was divided, Jefferson and Washington 
Randolph being opposed to the bank as unconstitutional, the act for 
and Hamilton and Knox of a contrary opinion. The bank - 
President requested from each a statement of his reasons 
in writing, and he is understood to have reflected deeply, 
and deliberated even with more than his usual caution, 
before he affixed his signature to the act. 

The object of the tax on distilled spirits was to pro- Taxondis- 
vide a fund for paying the interest on a portion of the 
domestic debt. The duties on imports were said to be 
strained as far as they would bear, without injury to 
commerce, and perhaps to the revenue by holding out a 
temptation to smuggling ; and, as a new tax must be 
55 s2 



[JEr. 59. 



tour through 
the southern 


Law for the 
ment of 
tatives in 

laid somewhere, the Secretary of the Treasury thought it 
could fall on no commodity less objectionable than ardent 
spirits distilled in the country. The tax was opposed as 
impolitic and unequal in its application. It was branded 
as an odious excise, hostile to liberty, the collecting of 
which would inflame the people, and lead to evasions 
and perhaps to resistance. It was unequal, because dis 
tilling was practised mostly in the West, and a few lim 
ited districts in other parts. This argument was more 
specious than sound, since the consumers would actual 
ly pay the tax; but it was vehemently urged by some 
of the representatives. The bill was carried, and was 
more remarkable for its consequences, than for its char 
acteristics as a legislative act, in whatever light it may 
be viewed. 

The President had fixed on the next recess of Con 
gress for a tour through the southern States. He set off 
about the middle of March, and was gone three months, 
performing in that time a journey of eighteen hundred 
and eighty-seven miles with the same horses. His route 
was through Richmond, Wilmington, and Charleston, as 
far as Savannah ; whence he returned by way of Augusta, 
Columbia, and the interior of North Carolina and Virginia. 
Before leaving home, he had ascertained with great accu 
racy the distances between one place and another, settled 
the precise day upon which he should arrive at each, and 
the length of time he should stop. Not a single accident 
occurred ; and with such exactness and method had his 
calculations been made, that his original plan was exe 
cuted in every particular, except that he stayed one day 
more in one place than he intended, and one day less in 
another. He everywhere received the same proofs of re 
spect and attachment, which had been manifested in his 
travels through the middle and eastern States. 

The principal laws passed at the next session were those 
for apportioning the representatives, establishing a uniform 
militia system, and increasing the army. The constitution 
had prescribed, that the representatives in the national 

^T. 59.] L I F E O F W A S H I N G T O N. 435 

legislature should be apportioned among the several States CHAPTER 
according to the respective numbers of their population, XVIL 
but that the whole number of representatives should not 17 9!- 
exceed one for every thirty thousand. When the new 
apportionment bill was proposed, it was found that no 
ratio could be chosen, which would not leave large frac 
tions to some of the States. For instance, if thirty thou 
sand were taken as the ratio, there would be an unrepre 
sented surplus of fifteen or twenty thousand, more or 
less, in some of the States. To remedy this imperfection, 
a bill was introduced and passed, which fixed the ratio 
at thirty thousand. The total population was divided by 
this ratio, which gave one hundred and twenty as the 
whole number of representatives. But this included the 
sum of all the fractions ; and, after apportioning to each 
State one representative for every thirty thousand, the re 
siduary members, to make the whole number of one hun 
dred and twenty, were distributed among the States in 
which the fractions were the largest. The President de 
cided, that this bill did not conform to the constitution, 
it being obvious that the ratio was meant to apply to the 
States individually, and not to the aggregate amount of 
population in them all. He therefore returned the bill to 
Congress, with his reasons for not affixing his signature. 
A new bill was then framed and approved, fixing the 
ratio at thirty-three thousand, and throwing out the frac 

The subject derived an importance from the spirit of Local jeai- 
party, and local jealousies, which entered into the discus 
sion. Many of the members were strenuous for as large 
a representation as possible, by which the rights of the 
States would be better preserved, and a check afforded 
to the undue increase of executive power. The bill for 
the increase of the army was opposed on the same grounds. 
It would enlarge the executive patronage, which might 
ultimately be adverse to liberty, and a greater evil than 
the Indian war, for the prosecution of which the army 
was wanted. 


It became evident, indeed, from many indications, both 
in Congress and abroad, that the advocates for different 
1791. measures were fast arranging themselves into two distinct, 
political parties, the administration and its friends on one side, and 

parties in r 

the united its opponents on the other. In the first place, they who 
had opposed the constitution would naturally have their 
prejudices arrayed against it when put in practice, and 
be ready to find fault with any system by which this 
was effected. Again, all those who had watched with 
solicitude over the rights of the States, and believed these 
in danger, would be prepared to see the fulfilment of 
their predictions in the acts of the general government, 
however administered. If to these we add the bias of 
personal feelings, the influence of the passions, an un 
limited freedom of speech, and the tendency of opposition 
to beget opposition, we shall have abundant materials for 
creating parties and aliment for their support. And, as 
parties gain strength by union, it was easy for these ele 
ments, at first discordant, gradually to assimilate. Nor 
need we question the motives of any individual or class 
of men. It is fair to presume, that, at this stage of our 
political progress, there was as much patriotism and sin 
cerity on both sides as at any other period. It is true, 
that, when a man gives himself up to a party, he is apt 
to forget his country ; yet in all free communities there 
must be parties, and every man must belong to one or 
another, so that his motives should be judged by his con 
duct and character, rather than by the side he takes. 
The necessity of parties is not identical with their abuse. 
The former is the safeguard of liberty, the latter its bane. 
If the people would enjoy the one, they must be en 
lightened enough to perceive and virtuous enough to cor 
rect the other. 

Dissensions But this is not the place to examine into the origin 

of parties re- 

ratted by or principles of the two great parties, which at that time 

Washington. r 

began to divide the country, and which have continued 
ever since, with such modifications as have sprung from 
events and circumstances. It needs only to be said, that 


they were viewed with deep regret by Washington, and CHAPTER 
with a painful apprehension of their effects. Conscious xvll> 
of acting with the single aim of administering the gov- 1 7 ^2. 
ernment for the best interests and happiness of the peo 
ple, he was mortified to find his endeavors thwarted at 
every step by party discords and personal enmities among 
those, who controlled public opinion by their standing arid 
talents, and on whose aid he relied. It was not in Con 
gress alone, that these jarrings occurred. They crept in 
to the cabinet, disturbing its harmony, and dividing its 

He had for some time been aware of a radical difference Differences 
of opinion between the Secretary of State and the Secre- Hamilton 

. andJeffer- 

tary of the Treasury, on some of the most important s n- 
measures of the administration. The causes were deeply 
seated. Hamilton regarded the Constitution as affording 
inadequate powers to the general government, and be 
lieved its weakness to be its greatest defect. Hence he 
thought its success could be hoped for only by construing 
and administering it in such a manner, as would add the 
greatest degree of strength to the executive. Jefferson's 
sentiments and fears ran in an opposite direction. To him 
it appeared, that there was too much power in the head, 
that the exercise of the executive authority ought to be 
restrained, and that the rights of States and the liberty 
of the people were in jeopardy. The funding system, the 
assumption of the State debts, the bank, and the tax on 
domestic spirits, were all at variance with his principles. 
These measures originated with Hamilton, and co